Jesters mingled with mistresses; artists and poets painted them both. Sarah Bernhardt held the roles of actress, courtesan, and sculptor; her most famous sculpture depicts Victor Hugo’s fool. Jesters mingled with artists and poets; courtesans practiced their art on them all. Alexander the Great gave his pet artist, Apelles, his favorite mistress, Campaspe. Alexandre Dumas, the father and the son, both loved and wrote about courtesans. The DC Madam worked Washington’s kings and people of the arts still have large representation. Names change, the roles stays much the same.

Pictures from Wikipedia (clockwise from top left)

Liane de Pougy, already famous as a courtesan and actress, made herself more famous by having a lesbian tryst with Natalie Clifford Barney

Sarah Bernhardt

Deborah Jeane Palfrey,  the D.C. Madam

Alexandre Dumas, fils wrote The Lady of the Camellias (La Dame aux camélias”) after being mused by his courtesan, Marie Duplessis.

Not pictured: Alexandre Dumas (père) wrote Fernande: The Story of a Courtesan


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