‘Flores Deshojadas’ by Ramon Casas

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Flores Deshojadas’ by Ramon Casas is a painting which depicts a young female lying on the ground amidst a large scattering of petals, symbolising the loss of virginity. The subject matter of the painting stems from the late 19th century, where it was widely believed that the only cure for syphilis was to have relations with an adolescent female, an idea not dissimilar to a belief which is still held today in certain parts of Africa regarding AIDS. It was because of this belief that a large number of violent crimes of a sexual nature occurred involving teenage girls. Virginity at the time was considered to be in extremely high regard and virgins were often considered to have a special power which was highly sought after as a medical cure for various ailments.

Symbolism is used throughout this painting as a technique to put across the artists beliefs. ‘Defloration’ is often a term used to describe the act of losing ones virginity, however, the rose petals on the ground of the painting appear to be torn, demonstrating the violent nature of what has just occurred. The genitals of the young girl in the picture are not visible, which could be the artist trying to insist upon the idea that the girl is not a sexual object. The angle in which we are viewing the girl can be described as male-oppressive as we are viewing her from above, in a position of power. She lays pale and seemingly lifeless, which could either be seen as a physical death of the subject, or as a spiritual death of her virginity. The angle of her limbs evokes the idea that a violent act has just occurred. She appears helpless and tossed aside, giving her the appearance of a rag doll that has been thrown carelessly aside. In order to further emphasise the young age of the girl, there are no harsh lines or signs of maturity in her body, making the subject look like she has the body of a young child.

The pink tones of the petals is highly unusual for the period, as the colour pink is generally considered a new phenomenon within art history. The use of the colour pink not only describes the fragility and feminism of the girl, but could also be used as a reference to the girls genitalia and the sexual act which has just occurred. The milky, pale tones of her skin make her body look waxen, cold and possibly deceased.

The reason I have chosen this specific painting to analyse is due to my long-term interest in the colour pink within art history, as well as an intrigue in the way virginity and adolescent sexuality is depicted within art and literature. 

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