|A hand-coloured version of the same portrait.
Many miniaturists were put out of business by the advent of photography. Some found employment working for photographers as hand-colourists and the work on this carte almost certainly gives an accurate representation of the colours of Léotard’s actual costume.
The costume to which he eventually gave his name – during his lifetime it was called a maillot, now the French word for a bathing costume - had two advantages. First and foremost, it allowed complete freedom of movement and since it was close-fitting, there was nothing loose or flowing which could become entangled in any ropes or on the trapreze itself. Secondly, but almost as importantly, it showed off Léotard’s splendid physique to its best advantage. Léotard appears to have been well aware of how attractive he was, and justly proud of his beautifully toned body. One carte-de-visite by Pesme shows him in profile, naked but for a scanty loincloth, while another - by a studio identified with a blindstamped ‘L. & P.’ – shows him without the red, blue and gold breeches he is sporting here, wearing only a short dark leotard over his white ‘fleshings.’ The costume is so revealing it leaves almost nothing to the imagination; the portrait is an extraordinarily overt display of nineteenth century masculinity.
condition: Very fine, despite general signs of age.
price: not for sale
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