Octave TASSAERT, The Waif [L’abandonnée] 1852
A pregnant woman faints while her lover and his young betrothed walk down the aisle. In this moral tale, Octave Tassaert drew the attention of his contemporary audience to what was understood as a wide social problem – the plight of unmarried mothers. This was a subject that seemed to concern Tassaert greatly, considering he painted it a number of times. It was also a subject that found an eager market among Parisians at the time. Indeed, Tassaert found significant success following the Revolution of 1848 with his genre scenes covering the themes of moral and economic poverty, drawn from contemporary life. These paintings collectively describe French society as one fractured by social inequality, and one where the revolutionary tenets of liberty, equality and fraternity were in need of continual reaffirmation.