In recent times, a significant number of prints from Bellocq's own studio have come to light. They are typical professional photographs of the day, such as portraits, copy work for the Louisiana State Museum, and local views, yet few if any Storyville portraits printed by Bellocq's hand exist. A number of early posthumous prints from Bellocq's negatives by photographer Dan Leyrer have also surfaced.
The E. J. Bellocq Gallery of Photography at Louisiana Tech University is named in his honor.
The Storyville Photographs
All the photographs are portraits of women. Some are nude, some dressed, others posed as if acting a mysterious narrative. Many of the negatives were badly damaged, in part deliberately, which encouraged speculation. Many of the faces had been scraped out; whether this was done by Bellocq, his Jesuit priest brother who inherited them after E. J.'s death or someone else is unknown. Bellocq is the most likely candidate, since the damage was done while the emulsion was still wet. In a few photographs the women wore masks.
Some prints made by Bellocq have since surfaced. These are far more conventional than the full-negative prints made by Friedlander.
The Storyville photographs not only serve as a record of the prostitutes, but also the interiors of the businesses that housed them.
Bellocq in literature and film:
The mystique about Bellocq has inspired several fictional versions of his life, notably Louis Malle's 1978 film Pretty Baby, in which Bellocq was played by Keith Carradine. He also appears in Michael Ondaatje's novel Coming Through Slaughter and is a protagonist in Peter Everett's novel Bellocq's Women. These works take many liberties with the facts of Bellocq's life. He is also a minor character in David Fulmer's novel Chasing the Devil's Tail.
The photographs have inspired imaginative literature about the women in them. There are several collections of poems, notably
Brooke Bergan's Storyville: A Hidden Mirror
and Natasha Trethewey's Bellocq's Ophelia: Poems [amazon.com]
The 1974 book Storyville, New Orleans: Being an Authentic, Illustrated Account of the Notorious Red-Light District by Al Rose [May be purchased at amazon.com] gives an overview of the history of prostitution in New Orleans with many photographs by Bellocq.
In 1971, "Storyville Portraits" [amazon.com] won a mention at the Rencontres d'Arles's Book Award, France
Sources: E. J. Bellocq, From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
University Textbooks and historical publications in possession of Webmaster
E.J. Bellocq operated studios in New Orleans, 1909-1932, including locations at 840 Conti Street, 157 Baronne Street, 608 Canal Street, and 818 Ursulines Street. Source: lahistory.org
Ernest Bellocq's body now lies in the family tomb in Saint Louis Cemetery #3; across the Bayou from the New Orleans Museum of Art, where he never dreamed his private photographic project would one day be displayed.