I had higher hopes for Tell Me, Pretty Maiden: The Victorian and Edwardian Nude, because if we’ve learned nothing so far we have at least learned that male artists love to put two naked women together in pictures and call it art. Sometimes they even pretend that it’s classical mythology and call it Jupiter and Callisto.
Alas, Tell Me, Pretty Maiden is pretty much devoid of any interesting old images. The only one coming close is this Baigneuses by Paul Tiller. The book dates it to the 1890s, but I’m not so sure about that. If any fellow costume historians are reading this, feel free to suggest an alternate date.
I have mixed feelings about classing images of women bathing together as homoerotic. On the one hand- women used to bathe together all the time, often out of necessity, and certainly innocently before Krafft-Ebing got to them. On the other hand, the women in many of these images look like they’ve been having more fun than just splashing around in the water.