Angel of gaiety, have you known anguish,
Angel of kindness, have you met with hate?
Angel of health, have you beheld the Fevers?
Angel of beauty, do you know Old Age,
Angel of goodness, radiance, and delight,
One day, Charcot studied a painting by Rubens, representing the Healing of a Possessed Man. A striking resemblance occurred to him: was not the grimacing contorted, and convulsed man a realistic portrait of one of his patients at the Salpêtrière ? And it seemed to him that Rubens had painted one of the three phases of the great hysterical attack; and this painting by Rubens was not the only one of its genre. Were there not many lessons to be drawn from the study of great artistic works of the past? What a fascinating collection of clinical documents could be made with these images!1
1 Henri Meige, Charcot-artiste (Paris, 1925), pp. 13-14. Quoted and translated in Deborah Silverman, Art Nouveau in Fin-de-Siècle France (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1989), p. 96.
Georgette Dalou (1867-1915) was the artist's only child. Little is known about her except that she was physically and mentally disabled. The sculptor's tender feelings for his daughter are apparent in the bust's sensitive modeling (which preserves the slightly irregular features on the right side of her face) and in the will he drafted to ensure her care after his death. Reasons for Dalou's decision to preserve his daughter's slightly irregular features are suggested by two sources from his time, one indicating an artistic interest in the ambiguity of innocence, the other indicating an interest in renderings of impairment.
I desire that, upon my death, the liquidation of my atelier (esquisses, croquis, completed works, works in progress, working materials, etc. also the works of art in my apartment) is organized for the benefit of the Orphelinat des Arts [an orphanage] or, with the help of some friends, who I will designate. The outcome of this [liquidation] ... along with what to date I [have given to] ...my daughter.... is more than sufficient for her needs. The orphanage ... is responsible for: 1st, taking in my child; 2nd, providing her with the same food and services that the managing staff of the orphanage receives ... and treating her as a member of the household. Finally, putting aside a monthly allowance for her livelihood and her [needs].... What remains ... is to benefit the other children of the orphanage. Last condition, her freedom of will has to be respected completely until her last breath. Her burial is to take place in the [same tomb] as her father and mother.1
1 Aimé Jules Dalou in Angelica Zander Rudenstine, et al., Modern Painting, Drawing, & Sculpture Collected by Emily and Joseph Pulitzer, Jr., vol. IV (Cambridge: Harvard University Art Museums, 1988). Translation by Matthias Waschek. The original letter, dated 3 January 1901, is preserved in the Bibliothèque d'Art et d'Archéologie (Doucet), Paris.