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Bellocq was comfortable in Storyville a neighborhood in New Orleans, blocks from where he had grown up. He photographed opium dens in Chinatown, and made a series of intimate portraits of women, thought to be Storyville prostitutes. This photograph is one from that series, which includes images of young women clothed, in various stages of undress and nude. They appear comfortable, confident and even playful before the camera. A tight necklace emphasizes her long and shapely neck. She wears a fitted white chemise. She pulls this garment around her torso with hands held in the small of her back, accentuating her hourglass form. Her white shirt contrasts with the black stockings that reach above her knees, revealing her thighs. Her confidence, shapely figure and coiffure are reminiscent of "Gibson Girl," an American beau ideal at the turn of the 20th century. Like Bellocq's other Storyville subjects, she seems quite unselfconscious, suggesting that she may have known the photographer. This apparent ease has led many observers to speculate that Bellocq--like an American Toulouse-Lautrec--was a frequent customer of the bordello and close to these women, and photographed their friendships. However, no persuasive evidence of such a relationship has been found.
from Acton, A History of Photography at the University of Notre Dame: Twentieth Century (Notre Dame, 2019)