Based on Chloe by Jules Lefebvre (1875)
The painting ‘Chloe’, which could be the most famous artwork in Australia, hangs not in a gallery or private collection but in a Melbourne pub, Young and Jackson’s. She has been admired by thousands of servicemen on their way to the front since WW1, and no doubt for many a young man Chloe was the first and possibly last view of a naked woman. Up until World War II all Australian servicemen were volunteers, but some were less willing than others and the white feather was handed by women to men not in uniform, the ‘plume fatale’ of this picture. The deathly pink telegram lies at her feet.
The pallor of girls’ brows shall be their pall;
Their flowers the tenderness of patient minds,
And each slow dusk a drawing-down of blinds. “Anthem for Doomed Youth” by Wilfred Owen, killed November 3rd 1918
Read more about Plume Fatale and Chloe on Patrick Nicholas’ blog