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Love for SaleRepresenting Prostitution in Imperial Russia$
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Colleen Lucey

Print publication date: 2021

Print ISBN-13: 9781501758867

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: January 2022

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9781501758867.001.0001

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Tricks of the Trade

Tricks of the Trade

Elite Prostitution and the Art of Seduction

(p.78) Chapter 3 Tricks of the Trade
Love for Sale

Colleen Lucey

Cornell University Press

This chapter moves to the image of the elite prostitute, the demimondaine (dama polusveta). Unlike her corollary working in the brothel, the demimondaine freely moved about the city space and blended in with women of the cultural elite. A lady “between worlds,” the demimondaine occupied a precarious position in imperial Russia. More selective than a brothel worker and unlike the kept woman who settled with one lover, the demimondaine confused sexual and social boundaries by appropriating the behaviors, pastimes, and clothing of the elite. The source texts for the chapter include the numerous representations of elite prostitutes in print by the day's leading lithographers as well as depictions in famous paintings by Ilia Repin (A Parisian Café, 1875) and Ivan Kramskoi (Unknown Woman, 1883). These works codified the new behaviors of demimondaines as part of an emerging leisure culture modeled on European trends.

Keywords:   demimondaine, elite prostitute, leisure culture, cultural elite, seduction, elite prostitution

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