Tatouage Bas du Dos (or Lower Back Tattoo)
TATOUAGE BAS DU DOS (or "Lower Back Tattoo"), mid 1700s
Drawing on paper (India ink, watercolor)
This exquisite drawing depicts beauty implements and procedures of the 1700s. Originally intended for Diderot’s Encyclopedie, ou Dictionnaire raisonne des sciences, des arts et des metiers, this fine example of French artistry never made it into the first printing of the Paris edition in 1751, or any other edition for that matter. As it turns out, the drawing, along with several like it, were discovered missing just before the publication. Several suspects were named in the disappearance (including Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s mistress, a stock boy, and a press worker who may have stolen the drawings for his 18-year-old daughter), but no charges were pressed nor were the artworks recovered. It was not until a recent estate auction in Lyon, France that the images resurfaced and were subsequently donated to the Museum of Historical Makeovers.