The course studies women as producers of art and as images in art in eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Europe. It offers an introduction to how meanings about women and gender are produced by visual images and how gender structures peoples' responses to art. We will investigate the professional opportunities available to women artists for training, exhibition, association, and selling during this period, and the kinds of art they consequently produced. We will also explore the political and social restrictions placed on women in the aftermath of the French Revolution and consider the paradoxical effects this repression had through increased feminine presence in the cultural imaginary of the nineteenth century. Art of the period saw a shift from the male to the female nude as the dominant figure of ideal beauty, the invention of new mythologies around the figure of the woman, and the transformation of women into signs of fashion and modernity. The implications of these changes will be examined not only for women artists, patrons, and critics but also for male artists and writers presented with possibilities for identifying with and through the female figure in their work. The course will be taught as a combination of lecture and seminar discussion. Modes of assessment include response papers to the readings, oral reports, a mid-term examination, and a final paper. Recommended texts include Mary Sheriff, The Exceptional Woman: Elizabeth Vigée-Lebrun and the Cultural Politics of Art; Gen Doy, Women & Visual Culture in 19th Century France, 1800-1852; and coursepack.
Estimated cost of materials: $100 or more, but less than $150. D. 4