I believe everyone knows the melody of the Can Can which was made famous by those voluptuous nineteen century dancers performing at the famous Moulin Rouge in Paris. We have seen pictures, postings and most enticing paintings by Henri de Toulouse – La Trec.
This brilliant artist, hobbling around on stunted legs, (which he broke as a child), frequented the cabarets of Paris capturing for all time the feel of the young, bawdy, dancers. With their chubby limbs flinging high in the air to that unforgettable melody they would turn around to lift full ruffled skirts and scandalized the novices in the audience with views of their full derrieres, encased with even more ruffles. They teased and taunted the gentlemen of high society.
During his short time on this earth, (he died at 36), Henri was drawn to the raucous sounds and sights of the hardest living among us. The prostitutes, harlots, and dance hall performers of that era. He depicted them in the most garish of shades, never quite hiding the sharp angles of face and body. Always with bright lipstick smeared across their mouths. He lived his life cavorting and drinking with these oft-times falsely cheerful women. I wonder if he loved or hated them. In all probability, they gave him the companionship and acceptance that the so called high born ladies did not.
Today, when you hear that melody played, and we all do often, does the vision of these racy, giggling, women come to mind? Do you think of nineteen century Paris, cobble stone streets, slow, trotting, steeds being urged along by the coach driver, or an educated, undersized, bearded artist, conversing with illiterate henna haired ladies of the evening?
Or…………… do you hum along to the Shop Rite commercial and hurry to the nearest supermarket to load up a cart with the bounty procured at the Can Can Sale? Two cans of Campbell’s Chunkey Soup for $3.00!