Student Response:
2008.487.104 Tancrede Synave Mademoiselle Fifi, c. 1895 Color Lithograph, 12.5 x 9.375 in. Author: Reilly Olson The hunched body and scowling face of an obviously unhappy woman occupies the focal point of this print. Her clenched fist rests merely inches away from the knife on the table in front of her. The male figure next to her dumps champagne on her, blows smoke in her face, and leans entirely too close to her. This color lithograph captures the moment just prior to the climax of the short story entitled Mademoiselle Fifi, published in 1882 by Guy de Maupassant. The story chronicles a group of soldiers stationed away from home during the Franco-Prussian war. The comrades nick-name their officer “Mademoiselle Fifi” due to his “feminine” comportment and unpleasant personality. One night, the group decides to go out on the town with some local prostitutes. Rachel, our female figure, is one of these women propositioned by Mademoiselle Fifi, who spends the entire evening insulting her and her country. She quickly tires of his rude remarks and rebukes him, after which he responds by slapping her. Rachel hunches forward and avoids eye contact with the officer, which further enforces the idea that she is not enjoying her time with him. Synave captures this moment in the print. As Rachel becomes more distressed, she picks up the knife and stabs Fifi. Synave’s use of color surrounded by dark shadows and the body language between the man and woman convey a sense of foreboding and suspense. Synave’s print includes Impressionist influences with the loose handling of form and the idea of capturing a single moment in the lives of everyday people. Post-Haussmannian Paris was a bubbling, lively, and colorful place that allowed artists to create and display their pieces throughout the city. Walls and booths were erected and opened up specifically for the display of art and artistic advertisements, and these colorful features soon lined the streets of Paris. Advancing technology also propelled artworks into new uses. Color lithography was a relatively new way to not only create, but to also mass-produce works of art, which facilitated an advance in the production of advertisements. Seeing art quickly became a daily occurrence for passers-by along the bustling Parisian streets. Art went from catering strictly to the eyes of the rich to being seen and enjoyed by everyday people of France. In order for a print to be a successful advertisement it needed to catch the eye of those busy citizens. Synave accomplishes this beautifully using a pop of yellow contrasting with a dark background and the body language and facial expressions of his characters.
Related Objects
Current Location:
Cabinet F -> Drawer 13 (F)
Location Notes:
PDC; Cabinet F; Drawer 13

Robert L. Hoskins and Erwin A. Raible Collection of Fin de Siécle French Prints, Gift of Elaine Rutowski Shay ➔ Mlle Fifi (Mademoiselle Fifi)

Color Lithograph
Artworks - Height: 12.5 in Width: 9.375 in
Note: Mat: 17.5"h x 14"w
Man speaking to and blowing smoke at woman in yellow dress. She looks angry and is clenching her fist. Program for "Theatre Libre," 1895-96.
Historical Context:
Tancrède Synave was a late 19th-century French painter known for his works commissioned by the theater, and also for his abundant collection of portraiture of bourgeois women. His theater work is often equated to the works of Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, possessing similarities in both content and style.