The Cursed Woman by Octave Tassaert: An Act of Sin or Explorative Pleasure?

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PS: The content and the imagery used and discussed in this blog are NSFW; continue reading only if you are an adult or under adult supervision! 

The damned woman is seen to be enjoying every bit of pleasure she is getting!

The title of the painting says that it is cursed, but her expressions tell a different story!

A closer look at it shows that the curves of the woman are being praised by three other women.

What does it look like to you? A woman under a curse, or a woman enchanted by pleasure?

Not only is it explicitly portraying lovemaking, but it is also defining the importance of women sticking together.

In every way possible, this painting was defined as a curse and was also boycotted at certain times.

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Today we are going to discuss the cursed woman painting, which is not only a mystery in itself but also claims to have ended Octave’s career. 

About Octave Tassaert

The self portrait of Octave Taessaert
Image Source: Wikipedia

Before we learn more about Cursed Woman’s art, let’s learn briefly about its creator.

The history of art has it that most of the painters had been either depressed or dealing with their personal issues.

Also, with this being said, it cannot be denied that an artist’s muse is often the real life incidents. 

Considering this curse woman painting’s history, it is hard to predict what the artist was thinking while initiating the work. 

Grandson of one of the famous Flemish sculptors, Jean-Pierre-Antoine Tassaert, Octave Tassaert led a very vivid life.

Not only was he a talented and famous French artist, but he was also an activist. 

His works were labeled as explicit and were also marked as NSFW, as they were criticized a lot.

Octave’s paintings portray the pleasure, sensual needs, and desires of a woman as well.

This was a brief introduction to the life of the artist who led a depressed life, but that does not mean he curated sad paintings!  

In fact, he created some of the most explicit artworks, so let us now read about one of his iconic paintings, The Cursed Woman.

Meaning Of The Painting of the Cursed Woman

Whether you take a look at this painting for the first time or twice, one thing that you will find in common is that it showcases nudity and explicitness.

There was a subliminal message regarding safe sex practices in this painting.

The Curse Woman a.k.a. La Femme Damnée might have also been meant to be a social commentary, but that meaning has since been lost.

The deeper you go into an artwork, the more you understand what the artist must be thinking while creating it.

Men in society are also frequently ignored and never give much thought to the pleasures of women.

So women stood up for women, and, after all, no one knows their way around (and in) women like other women!

To your surprise, the intention behind its creation is still a mystery, but as it is said, the less you know, the more you assume and perhaps explore.

The Cursed Woman painting needs you to explore every aspect of it, whether it’s about knowing its background or its creator’s thought process. 

History has it that, whether it be true financial freedom, rights to study or work, or even the right to orgasm, it is something that women have been fighting for.

And, in moments of need, a woman becomes a woman’s true companion.

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During the time when Octave came out, he made paintings like The Cursed Woman,  The Cautious Lover, and many other explicit paintings.

Why is The Cursed Woman Damned?

The contextual analysis of the painting of the cursed woman
Image Source: Wikimedia, Compiled by PortraitFlip

In history, a man has never stood up for the rights of women, whether they be societal or sexual, but kudos to the man of morals, Octave Tassaert. 

He stood up and emphasized the fact that women also had needs that they wanted to be fulfilled.

And when there’s a will, there’s a way. 

Women have found their way through another woman.

The painting of the cursed woman is translated as the damned woman.

Now the question, why is the woman labelled as damned?

Just because she was fulfilling her desires, or because she was rebelling against those who thought that women pursuing sexual pleasures was a sinful act?

Given the fact that almost no information about this painting is available on the internet, it still shows how women’s sexual needs were taboo.

Proof of this is the fact that this painting, when made live, ended the artist’s career.

What an irony! If a man were in the same position as the woman in the painting, he would’ve been labelled as macho and masculine.

On the other hand, the woman is called damned and is committing a sin.

Over the years, women have always fought for what is right for them, and hence, in The Cursed Woman, Octave has portrayed the same.

Sex is not sin, and seeking pleasure in the unexplored is an adventure, and women, oh women, are indeed adventurous. 

Suggested Read: Gay Erotic Art

Eroticism in Art or Art in General?

The Cursed Woman, or La Femme Damnée, is a questionable painting by Octave Tassaert. 

Also, this being said, this painting makes you question whether the woman in the center is actually cursed or whether she is enjoying herself willingly.

This mystery remained the same, and we never got answers for it.

One way or another, this painting made it to the headlines, and with an underlying message, it disappeared in between the lines.


Eroticism was criticised but was used in the art world at the same time.

History has it that many famous paintings from the Renaissance period, Romanticism, etc. depict nude paintings.

But the story of the cursed woman had a different ending.

While it became one of the most criticized and controversial paintings in history, it also vanished from the art scene real quick.

No one is aware of its whereabouts, but even today, when considering this painting, the imagery and discussion become NSFW.

With this being said, we have now understood what this painting by Octave Tassaert is about and how it demonizes eroticism in art.

I hope you liked this blog. 

We write a lot of interesting pieces about art, so if you are an aesthete then you should visit our blog pages to read more.


Who painted the cursed woman, and when?

The Cursed Woman painting was created by Nicolas François Octave Tassaert, in 1859.

Why is the cursed woman demonized?

The Cursed Woman painting is considered demonized as it is an overtly sexual representation of how women have to sacrifice their satisfaction and how they didn’t have the freedom to express themselves in the 19th- century.

Where is The Cursed Woman placed now?

There is no active information available about the whereabouts of this infamous painting by Tassaert called The Cursed Woman. But it was also said that most of Octave’s artwork was bought by the Piers, so it was assumed that this painting might be one of the collectives.

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