Ce qu’on appelle le vagabondage

Ce qu’on appelle le vagabondage (“What We Call Vagrancy”) — Alfred Stevens, 1854

Part of the social realist movement that aimed to unapologetically depict society with all its flaws, this painting shows a homeless woman with her children being led away to be locked up. A kind bourgeois woman tries to intervene and give her money, but the gendarmes brush her off. The disabled veteran on the right, who she’s stepping over, is probably there to show that bourgeois kindness can be very selective.

The portrayal of brutal state repression apparently stuck a chord with Emperor Napoleon III who, upon seeing this painting, reportedly promised that it would not happen again. So he ordered that vagrants in Paris should be taken to jail in closed carriages instead of on foot.Which uhhh solves a problem I guess?

   15 May 2022
   1/30s    f/2.8   28mm   ISO 1000
What we call vagrancy