A Conversation with Victorine

Converational Poetry Art As Writing 



“The Street Singer”

“The Matador”





I so darkly hidden in the painting, “Olympia”

Have come to introduce you

To the many faces, of Victorine

She was only 17 years old

When she came into acquaintance with the painter

He favored her because of her unusual appearance

She was a fantastic character

She played guitar

And she could also paint

She exhibited at the salon

When Manet was rejected


Manet painted the new modern man

He painted the new modern woman,

He painted me


As I really am

You say he owes his style to Courbet

What you say may be true

I say the style was all his own


He gave us the modern woman

Exposed as she really is

No longer hidden

From the parlors

And drawing rooms

Of the respectable citizens of Paris

He painted paintings of his town time



“Art is a circle, he said,

you’re either in or out

By accident of birth”

He never wanted to make a protest of his painting

He never wanted to overthrow the past

He never wanted to create a new order

He wanted to be of his own time

“To paint what one really sees”,

He painted me as I really am



The Street Singer


It is late one night

He was walking alone

He saw her from afar

Who is that beautiful girl he thought

Where on earth did she come from?

He could hear her voice fading away in the distance

Her beauty was haunting to him

She represented the beauty

Of the street, and it’s music

I must find her he thought

Oh! Beautiful girl,

Singer, lady on the street,

That is what I will call her, he thought out loud

The Street Singer!

He tried to get the girl to pose for him

But she laughed at him and disappeared

Manet rushed to find me, Victorine

He told me of the beautiful girl

The singer on the street

The girl with the guitar

He told me a woman with such beauty

Must be painted

It was the inner beauty that Manet captured in me

He was not so interested in my physical body

As he was interested in capturing

The spirit of me, of the people

The people of his time

He captured that spirit

By painting

My body,

My face

He saw

My inner beauty




The Matador


Her I am

Gazing at you

When I should be concentrating

On the bull

Here I am

Disguised as a bull fighter

This context of me

Only heightens my femininity

Is this not

An unusual Costume

An unusual occupation

For a woman?


This painting was one of the first paintings

I posed for

In the painting I am wearing a Spanish Costume

Zola had told Manet

About some fantastic costumes

He brought them to Paris

Zola’s influence brought the Matador to life

But if I had my choice I would rather pursue more tender conquests

If I had to choose between

A companion excelled at making jam

Or another at killing bulls

It is the first

I would pick


I was his constant model for 13 years

I could change my appearance

Like a great actor

Manet capturing the bohemian through my eyes

He could explore the hidden faces of reality

He could explore the other side

Of the grand gesture, the lie, the bluff, the travesty


I introduced him to other mores, views, and values

In a culture designed by men for men

I represented a break from false morals

I was the incarnation of truth

He never tried to make me beautiful

He made me real

He challenged the traditions of the great salon paintings

Particularly the female nude

He tried to paint the truth, the real truth














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