The bathroom

“The bottle of perfume, which Marthe […] nonchalantly holds in her right hand, is the all-important barrier and go-between, positioned at that point of confrontation where body and light touch as they dramatically push and pull against each other. The bottle is filled with a liquid as yellow as the wallpaper and as golden as the glowing radiance advancing from behind the window curtains. The perfume in its vessel is yet another form of light within the painting.”  – RICHARD STAMELMAN

By the way – Richard Stamelman, a scholar of literature, is the author of Perfume: A cultural history of fragrance from 1750 to the present. He wrote this remarkable cultural history of perfumery in the early 2000s. The book is less well known and hardly cited.  In other fields a disappointing impact impact factor clearly disqualifies a contribution. In this case, however, I feel inclined to turn the perspective: Could the marginal status of this monograph actually be an indicator of widespread superficiality or ignorance within the perfume world?

There is an abundance of beautiful coffee table books including some pretty recent new releases.  And there is nothing wrong about glossy advertising or impression management. Yet, the question remains, what else is there?


By the way, this DICTUM by Richard Stamelman comments on Pierre Bonnard: Nu à contre-jour (1908) The painting is part of the collection in the Fin de Siècle Museum at Bruxelles.


Stamelman, R. H. (2006). Perfume: Joy, Obsession, Scandal, Sin : a cultural history of fragrance from 1750 to the present. New York, NY: Rizzoli, p. 17.

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