Understanding Eroticism in Art Forms: A Critical Analysis of Octave Tassaert’s Painting ‘The Cursed Woman’


  • Vaidehi Rajagopalan Vaidehi Rajagopalan, Post Graduate Scholar, Department of English, Central University of Punjab


Eroticism, erotic capital, sexology, cursed, painting, woman, multiple partners


Erotic capital is a value that one acquires as a result of sexual attractiveness which is as important as social and cultural capital. It is a combination of many attributes. It was first used by Catherine Hakim who defined it as a separate form, independent of class origin and which therefore enables social mobility. The erotic theory states that every individual has complete freedom upon their sexual life. This paper attempts to question the title of one of Octave Tassaert’s famous paintings, ‘The Cursed Woman’. It brings the picture of a woman receiving sex from three partners. The title translates into ‘The Damned Woman’, but it looks more like heaven than damnation. Sexual intercourse with more than one partner cannot make a woman cursed. Above all, the features of the painting prove the woman’s state of happiness and satisfaction. She seems comfortable with what she does. It is commonly believed that women are those supposed to beautify themselves but not allowed to show their interests in sexual acts. Another fact is that the painter who considered, the woman having sex with multiple partners as cursed, was himself considered as the worst painter by the people because of the representation of sex and nudity. He had to face opposition for most of his paintings. According to the theory, the woman has a complete right over her body and thus it opposes the title of the painting.