Women, Smoking, and Art
Vicki's post with the image of the flapper made me stop and study that photo. I wondered what she was hiding under her skirts and it looks like a cigarette case. That got me thinking....
It's easy to forget that the practice of smoking tobacco has aroused vehement responses - both positive and negative - for a long time. In Meso-America - tobacco's heartland - decorative vases depicting smoking gods and animals had been produced for hundreds of years, but tobacco was first imported to Europe only around 500 years ago. From the 17th century on, European artists began depicting smokers. Smoking became prevalent in paintings of the Dutch Golden Age, and was presented chiefly as a fine pleasure openly undertaken by men and women. Fashionable, respectable women were often depicted smoking pipes. Check out; http://www.ramshornstudio.com/pipe_smoking.htm.
By the 1800’s the acceptability of women smokers seems to have declined. Women who smoked generally did so in private, and they were not usually depicted smoking in art unless it was to indicate their licentiousness and sexual availability. Victorian photographs tended to link female smokers as the crass type “who rode bicycles and wore bloomers.” Odalisque paintings produced during the 19th-century orientalist craze almost invariably depicted a naked woman smoking in a harem. The gypsy in Prosper Merimee's Carmen fits this mould. With the mass-production of cigarettes in the early 20th century, attitudes to women smoking changed. While suffragettes could still be lampooned as mannish-looking smokers, the advertising revolution that heralded the start of the consumer age transformed the negative stereotype. Cigarettes became fashionable - a sign of the modern, liberated woman. Cigarette manufacturers made a fortune from this new source of consumers and to this day, smoking persists amongst women. I am curious, has anybody written a historical romance heroine who smokes? I seem to recall a scene or two where the rebellious heroine shares a smoke with a friend.