The “pin-up girl” of the French Surrealists

Augustine, Charcot's star patient at Salpêtrière by you.

Charcot‘s Louise Augustine, later dubbed the “pin-up girl” of the French Surrealists, attempted many escapes. The hospital’s last entry concerning Augustine, dated September 9, 1880, notes that she “escaped from the Salpetriere, disguised as a man.”  [2]

Surprisingly, Les démoniaques dans l’art – Charcot et Richer[3], a book I acquired over the summer, does not feature the photograph depicted above, nor others from this set[4].

British writer Helen Kitson has written a fictionalized account of the Charcot/Augustine history here[5].

An excerpt:

‘I have named her Augustine.’
‘Named a lunatic after a saint! Well, perhaps they are much the same. The idiot, the mystic…’
‘She is not an idiot.’
She listens at the door, biting her fingernails. She needs to know what they want from her so that she can perform when asked. She has to know how mad she’s supposed to be. Satisfied, she goes back to her room where she dreams of blood and fire. Faces hidden behind shrouds. Dead men.

Visual postscript:

illustration du livre Hystéro-épilepsie de Paul Richer 1881

3 thoughts on “The “pin-up girl” of the French Surrealists

  1. Evie Byrne

    Ah! Augustine!

    I was obsessed with Charcot’s attitudes when I was an art student. Thank you for reminding me of these wonderful images. I haven’t thought about them for a long time. And I’ll have to check out the Kitson fiction…

  2. Agatha

    Ah, Augustine! Georges Didi-Huberman’s Invention of Hysteria: Charcot and the Photographic Iconography of the Salpetriere is chock full of photos from the passionnelles set plus lots more….

Comments are closed.