The Cover Section Editor: M. Therese Southgate,
MD, Senior Contributing Editor.
During the 19th century thousands of young women from poor families
sought careers as actresses in Paris. Few were successful; to make ends meet,
some sold their favors. A lucky few became courtesans, well-mannered, cultured
women who were highly sought after by those who could afford them. By the
time of the reigns of King Louis-Philippe (1830-1848) and Emperor Napoleon
III (1852-1870), the courtesan had become a major theme in the fine arts.
French Romantic literature, such as Dumas' La dame aux camelias and the novels of Balzac, shows a fascination with the theme. Some
of the women, the grand triumvirate of Emilienne d'Alencon, La Belle Otero,
and Liane de Pougy, for example, became national treasures.
Ravin JG. Alice Ozy. JAMA. 2004;292(3):310. doi:10.1001/jama.292.3.310