Painted in Paris, Neapolitan Beauties features an Italian subject set against a striking backdrop of the Gulf of Naples, which harkens back to the artist’s roots. The Beauties depicted here are effortlessly chic, almost doll-like, as they pose by the seaside, with a spouting Mount Vesuvius adding drama to the horizon. Their exquisite dresses serve as a showcase for Corcos' expert and swift paint handling, and he includes a sophisticated poodle as their companion. Curly-haired poodles, or Barbets, were extremely popular in Europe in the nineteenth century. They were prized as hunters and as intelligent companions with human characteristics. They have been included in works by many artists, from Albrecht Dürer to Henri Toulouse-Lautrec to Louis de Schryver; in Faust, Goethe has Mephistopheles come back to earth as a black poodle. The poodle shown here is distinguished by her neatly clipped coat and is as stylish and refined as the elegant women who care for her.
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