ABOUT THIS BOOK
Evil by Design documents the search for the origins of the iconic “femme fatale.” Depicted as a dangerous, depraved, and deadly woman, this image was found frequently in Salon paintings from 1885 to 1910.
Elizabeth K. Menon’s study is the first to use popular sources to make the critical link between the femme fatale and the rise of feminism. In addition to the Salon paintings, Menon sifts through a variety of popular sources, including French illustrated journals, literature, posters, and decorative arts. Over 120 images depict women with serpents, evil flowers, and even miniature men having their hearts cooked. She argues that the evolution of the femme fatale, with both literary and visual links to the biblical Eve figure, came as a response to increasing feminism and the desire by men to halt its spread.