Lilianne MilgromJun 15, 2022
The Secret Life of the World's Most Erotic Masterpiece
Girl Friday Books 2021
Today I talked to Lilianne Milgrom about L' Origine: The Secret Life of the World's Most Erotic Masterpiece (Girl Friday Books, 2021).
In 1866, maverick French artist Gustave Courbet painted one of the most iconic images in the history of art: a sexually explicit portrait of a woman's exposed genitals. Audaciously titled L'Origine du monde (The Origin of the World), the scandalous painting was kept hidden for a century and a half. Today, it hangs in the world-renowned Orsay Museum in Paris, viewed by millions of visitors a year.
As the first artist authorized by the Orsay Museum to re-create Courbet's The Origin of the World, author Lilianne Milgrom was thrust into the painting's intimate orbit, spending six weeks replicating every fold, crevice, and pubic hair. The experience inspired her to share her story and the painting's riveting clandestine history with readers beyond the confines of the art world.
Pallavi Joshi is a PhD Candidate in French Studies at the University of Warwick.