October 7, 2011
Concept of separate spheres
Images of motherhood are comparable to images of bars and halls etc
was a surprisingly modern subject matter in 1870s, 1880s
Before that most paintings of motherhood were of peasants.
or mythologized or allegorized. Not meant to be real depictions of a real life
Bouguereau, The Joys of Motherhood, 1878
typical example of the trend for representing mothers were
pretty, peasant, romantic view of working class life.
Baby almost looks like little cupid figure, not real life baby, idealized
out in nature. not in a home. in the countryside enjoying themselves
Cassatt, Mother about to Wash her Sleepy Child, 1880
motherhood located in a specific place at a specific time.
Bowl on table, chair she’s sitting on, etc shows its a bourgeois household.
Specific relationship shown as well.
Child is not idealized, his legs are gangly sticking out at weird angles, not
flattering portrait of the child.
They’re getting rid of Romantic idea of motherhood.
Showing scenes of every day life. Therefore, are just as modern in terms of
But they’re not written as this in art history. Seen as feminine experience of
modernity rather than universal.
Held potential for illustrating class and gender issues as well.
Different kind of woman depicted
Morisot, The Wet Nurse Angele Feeding Julie Manet, 1880.
- Wet nurse feeding morisot’s own daughter which adds further element to
this in regards to motherhood.
Cassatt, The Child’s Bath, 1893
Likely representing a nurse because she’s wearing a nurse’s uniform
Cassatt and Morisot
both were very wealthy
important to look at their images and see what kinds of power relations are
shown in them as well.
What kind of power would wet nurse have had?
Could she have said she didn’t want to be painted? NO..
Same with many of Cassatt’s image. Cassatt, La Coiffure, 1890-91 & Cassatt, La Toilette, 1890-91
Now makes the wet nurses pose nude for her as well.
Cassatt wasn’t even a mother. Based on gender essentialism her depictions
Even in context of women painting women, can’t think of them as solely
based around gender or femininity. They’re always placed together.
Cassatt pushes visual representation further than her contemporaries.
Moves into print-making.
Exhibition of Japanese work at Ecole des beaux arts.
Prints by Kitawaga Utamaro
Cassatt would have drawn from these for La Toilette and La Coiffure.
From a series on the subject of modern womanhood. She didn’t exhibit these
as this was post the Impressionist exhibition. She exhibited them in her own
solo show instead.
Many impressionists were influenced by Japanese art and prints.
Japanese art is step forward in respect of Clement Greenberg’s notions of
flatness in painting.
Provides different look at idea of separate spheres.
Outside influence were also effecting the home.
private spheres not completely closed to the outside world.
Separate Spheres did effect women’s experience in everyday life.
Separate Spheres as an Ideology
Increasing insistence on imp of women’s place within the home was partly
response to social advances being made by women
Happenign at same time that women are gaining access to universities and
other professions and eventually for suffrage.
The art world saw public fight on part of women to get into art school,
exhibitions etc that they had previously been excluded from.
When they found these places unfriendly or unable to join, they founded
their own organizations or schools.
Emily Mary Osborn, Nameless and Friendless, 1857
Woman selling her work at an art dealer shop
Takes this image and exhibits it at the Royal Academy.
Campaign of letters and petitions at this time to let women into Royal
Given this context and Osborn’s own place within this seems like direct
statement about what’s wrong with the artworld at this time in the image. What’s wrong that this is the only way we can do this.
Boy is there as her chaperone essentially.
Women artists didnt face problem that dancers did since they use their body
Education was first front on which women fought
excluded from best art schools.
Hard to get good reputations without good education.
Only in 1886 do they get into the Ecole des beaux arts.
Women allowed to exhibit in big institutions but couldnt be a member,
couldn’t have any control and power in the way in which it was run
Marie Bashkirtseff, IN the Studio, 1881
Depicintg alternative institutions that are cropping up to allow women to
have these rights.
one issue was that women couldnt workwith the nude model, they had to use
plaster casts etc, this is what happened. These Schools were majority female
, but once in was separated and segregated and women couldn’t be taught
by the best profs
Women do not have access to the nude
- Keeps them back
Henrietta Rae, Psyche Before the Throne of Venus, 1894
Henrietta Rae, Hylas and the Water Nymphs, 1910
Henrietta Rae, A Bacchante, 1885
Criticized for it.
Said it was bad - she didn’t have access to the nude
main critique is that the figures look like dancers. Comment on quality as
well as potential immorality of it.
Have to find friends or workers to model for them
Risking their respectabilities in this way
Women becoming professional art critics etc.
Fight for Professionalism for women.
Many women working in this period get written out for this reason, written
out as amateurs, though this is wrong they were professional. In fact, they
were recognized in their own time. It’s 20th c that claims them as amateur.
Art history as a discipline decides that subjects like Manet and Degas’ is
what is modern, anyone who didn’t depict these subjects wasn’t modern.
Generally no. Wouldn’t be safe, risking health and safety as well as respectability. Generally women were objects of flaneurs gaze.
Mary Cassatt, The Omnibus, 1890-91
Two women out on public bus with child
Located out in spaces of the modern city
In Omnibus on a Hausmanized bridge across the Seine.
This is representation of Hausmanization.
Was wealthy so able to show certain middle class experiences of Paris that
wouldn’t necessarily be open to all women in Paris.
Cassatt, Woman in Black at the Opera, 1878-80
- matinee of Opera
Cassatt, The Loge, 1882
These show big difference from Renoir’s, La Loge with her decorative