1st Edition

Women, Art and the Politics of Identity in Eighteenth-Century Europe

Edited By Melissa Hyde, Jennifer Milam Copyright 2003

    The eighteenth century is recognized as a complex period of dramatic epistemic shifts that would have profound effects on the modern world. Paradoxically, the art of the era continues to be a relatively neglected field within art history. While women's private lives, their involvement with cultural production, the project of Enlightenment, and the public sphere have been the subjects of ground-breaking historical and literary studies in recent decades, women's engagement with the arts remains one of the richest and most under-explored areas for scholarly investigation. This collection of new essays by specialist authors addresses women's activities as patrons and as "patronized" artists over the course of the century. It provides a much needed examination, with admirable breadth and variety, of women's artistic production and patronage during the eighteenth century. By opening up the specific problems and conflicts inherent in women's artistic involvements from the perspective of what was at stake for the eighteenth-century women themselves, it also acts as a corrective to the generalizing and stereotyping about the prominence of those women, which is too often present in current day literature. Some essays are concerned with how women's involvement in the arts allowed them to fashion identities for themselves (whether national, political, religious, intellectual, artistic, or gender-based) and how such self-fashioning in turn enabled them to negotiate or intervene in the public domains of culture and politics where "The Woman Question" was so hotly debated. Other essays examine how men's patronage of women also served as a vehicle for self-fashioning for both artist and sponsor. Artists and patrons discussed include: Carriera; Queen Lovisa Ulrike and Chardin; the Bourbon Princesses Mlle Clermont, Mme Adélaïde and Nattier; the Duchess of Osuna and Goya; Marie-Antoinette and Vigée-Lebrun; Labille-Guiard; Queen Carolina of Naples, Prince Stanislaus Poniatowski of Poland and Kauffman; David and his students, Mesdames Benoist, Lavoisier and Mongez.

    Contents: Introduction: art, cultural politics and the woman question, Melissa Hyde and Jennifer Milam; 'An ornament of Italy and the premier female painter of Europe': Rosalba Carriera and the Roman academy, Christopher M.S. Johns; Lovisa Ulrike of Sweden, Chardin and enlightened despotism, Paula Rea Radisich; Practicing portraiture: Mademoiselle de Clermont and J.-M. Nattier, Kathleen Nicholson; Commerce in the boudoir, Jill H. Casid; Matronage and the direction of sisterhood: portraits of Madame Adélaïde, Jennifer Milam; Under the sign of Minerva: Adélaïde Labille-Guiard's Portrait of Madame Adélaïde, Melissa Hyde; The cradle is empty: Elisabeth Vigée-Lebrun, Marie-Antoinette, and the problem of intention, Mary D. Sheriff; Ancient matrons and modern patrons: Angelica Kauffman as a classical history painter, Wendy Wassyng Roworth; Angelica's odyssey: Kauffman's paintings of Penelope and the weaving of narrative, Angela Rosenthal; The 'other atelier': Jacques-Louis David's female students, Mary Vidal; Goya's portraits of the Duchess of Osuna: fashioning identity in enlightenment Spain, Andrew Schulz; Bibliography; Index.


    Melissa Hyde, University of Florida, USA.

    Jennifer Milam, University of Sydney, Australia.

    'This wide-ranging series of in-depth studies of women as artists, as subjects of art, and as interlocutors and practitioners in artistic production in Europe during the eighteenth century offers new research on little-known figures, and at the same time provides valuable insights into the lives and working conditions of recognised artists.' Marcia Pointon, Professor Emerita, School of Art History and Archaeology, University of Manchester

    'A bold new interpretation of how eighteenth-century women produced, commissioned, acquired, and used art to shape their sense of self . . . Written by many of the most prominent art historians of early modern Europe, each piece in this ’"nterventionist project" is excellent, and the whole is still greater than the sum of the parts.' Nina Gelbart, Professor of History and Anita Johnson Wand Professor of Women’s Studies, Occidental College

    'This collection of eleven essays is notable for its consistently high quality and thematic coherence.' Kimberly Chrisman-Campbell, British Journal of 18th-Century Studies

    ’This long-awaited work is an excellent study of a key monument in Byzantine art and culture... Eastmond's study stands out for its broad-ranging engagement with questions of interpretation helped by an extensive use of theological, liturgical and historical writings showing an exemplary command of the primary sources.... The book is lavishly produced with good black and white and coloured photographs. The generous number of the colour plates is eminently laudable. Equipped with useful appendices, indexes and ample annotations, Eastmond's study of the church of St Sophia contributes significantly to the reappraisal of the monument, setting the tone for similar publications/studies and making a lasting contribution to the field.’ Byzantinische Zeitschrift