Beyond Decorative?

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Title: Beyond Decorative? Painted Images of the Woman as Part of The Cult of Domesticity
Physical Description: Book
Language: English
Creator: Fortier, Eugenie
Publisher: New College of Florida
Place of Publication: Sarasota, Fla.
Creation Date: 2012
Publication Date: 2012


Subjects / Keywords: Art History: Nineteenth Century
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theses   ( marcgt )
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Abstract: This thesis explores images of the middle- to upper-class woman in her domestic realm from the mid-nineteenth century to the turn of the twentieth century, extending the topics observed via Edward Hopper's paintings to the middle of the twentieth century. Observed through Impressionist works, which attempted to show everyday life, the validity of these images becomes questionable; since they were primarily painted by male artists, it is possible that the models were depicted as particularly exemplary of the female stereotype. However, as the artists strived to capture reality, they seem to simultaenously capture an emotional state of ennui that is shared by these domestic women. Elements of the bourgeois woman's routine become perceivable in tropes of the lack of activity of repose, and the solitary activities of reading and sewing, during which the woman often seems to escape in a state of reverie. The woman is often made comparable to the space in her appearance, visually tying her to the domestic realm she is meant to decorate and inhabit. When other female subjects are added, the isolation of the figures remains, emphasizing a lack of connection even between similar subjects. More blatantly, the tension between the two sexes becomes apparent in images of couples in the domestic space. This almost tangible emotional state even becomes adopted by the space in which the figures are placed, allowing for the start for an exploration of the abstraction of the domestic interior. The inclusion of Edward Hopper's works exhibits the detrimental effects of confining the woman to the home during the cult of domesticity, revealing a more universal unhappiness in modern times.
Statement of Responsibility: by Eugenie Fortier
Thesis: Thesis (B.A.) -- New College of Florida, 2012
Bibliography: Includes bibliographical references.
Source of Description: This bibliographic record is available under the Creative Commons CC0 public domain dedication. The New College of Florida, as creator of this bibliographic record, has waived all rights to it worldwide under copyright law, including all related and neighboring rights, to the extent allowed by law.
Local: Faculty Sponsor: Hassold, Cris

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Source Institution: New College of Florida
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Material Information

Title: Beyond Decorative? Painted Images of the Woman as Part of The Cult of Domesticity
Physical Description: Book
Language: English
Creator: Fortier, Eugenie
Publisher: New College of Florida
Place of Publication: Sarasota, Fla.
Creation Date: 2012
Publication Date: 2012


Subjects / Keywords: Art History: Nineteenth Century
Genre: bibliography   ( marcgt )
theses   ( marcgt )
government publication (state, provincial, terriorial, dependent)   ( marcgt )
born-digital   ( sobekcm )
Electronic Thesis or Dissertation


Abstract: This thesis explores images of the middle- to upper-class woman in her domestic realm from the mid-nineteenth century to the turn of the twentieth century, extending the topics observed via Edward Hopper's paintings to the middle of the twentieth century. Observed through Impressionist works, which attempted to show everyday life, the validity of these images becomes questionable; since they were primarily painted by male artists, it is possible that the models were depicted as particularly exemplary of the female stereotype. However, as the artists strived to capture reality, they seem to simultaenously capture an emotional state of ennui that is shared by these domestic women. Elements of the bourgeois woman's routine become perceivable in tropes of the lack of activity of repose, and the solitary activities of reading and sewing, during which the woman often seems to escape in a state of reverie. The woman is often made comparable to the space in her appearance, visually tying her to the domestic realm she is meant to decorate and inhabit. When other female subjects are added, the isolation of the figures remains, emphasizing a lack of connection even between similar subjects. More blatantly, the tension between the two sexes becomes apparent in images of couples in the domestic space. This almost tangible emotional state even becomes adopted by the space in which the figures are placed, allowing for the start for an exploration of the abstraction of the domestic interior. The inclusion of Edward Hopper's works exhibits the detrimental effects of confining the woman to the home during the cult of domesticity, revealing a more universal unhappiness in modern times.
Statement of Responsibility: by Eugenie Fortier
Thesis: Thesis (B.A.) -- New College of Florida, 2012
Bibliography: Includes bibliographical references.
Source of Description: This bibliographic record is available under the Creative Commons CC0 public domain dedication. The New College of Florida, as creator of this bibliographic record, has waived all rights to it worldwide under copyright law, including all related and neighboring rights, to the extent allowed by law.
Local: Faculty Sponsor: Hassold, Cris

Record Information

Source Institution: New College of Florida
Holding Location: New College of Florida
Rights Management: Applicable rights reserved.
Classification: local - S.T. 2012 F7b
System ID: NCFE004581:00001

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BEYOND DECORATIVE?: PAINTED IMAGES OF THE WOMAN AS PART OF THE CULT OF DOMESTICITY BY EUGENIE FORTIER A Thesis Submitted to the Division of Art History New College of Florida in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree Bachelor of Arts Under the sponsorship of Professor Cris Hassold Sarasota, Florida April, 2012


ii ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS I would like to thank Professor Hassold, who has been extremely helpful and supportive in her guidance throughout the year. I do not know how all of this would have gotten done without the encouragement from my mom. Thank you for being there for me in every way. Thank you to Starbucks at University and Tuttle for their hospitality and caffeine during the many late nights. Sara Hogan, Erin Dyles, and Liz Usherwood, you all have been such great friends and study partners throughout the years. Thank you for the commiseration and motivation. And Dolan Cochran, who incessantly helped me and stood by my side, supporting my ambitions and offering constant support from over a thousand miles away. I love you.




iv LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS FIGURE 1. Manet, E douard. Repose: Portrait of Berthe Morisot 1870. 2. Manet, Edouard. Portrait of Baudelaire's Mistress 1862. 3. Alexander, John White. Repose 1895. 4. Sargent, John Singer. Repose 1911. 5. Dewing, Thomas Wilmer. Repose 1921. 6. Morisot, Berthe. The Artist's Sister at a Window 1869. 7. Beaux, Cecilia. New England Woman 1895. 8. Monet, Claude. Meditation: Mme Monet on a Sofa, 1866. 9. Tarbell, Edmund C. Across the Room c. 1899. 10. Manet, Edouard. The Lecture 1848. 11. Fragonard, Jean-HonorŽ. Young Girl Reading 1770. 12. Cassatt, Mary. Reading 'Le Figaro', 1883. 13. Matisse, Henri. Woman Reading 1894. 14. Backer, Harriet. By Lamplight 1890. 15. Tarbell, Edmund C. Girl Reading 1909. 16. Hopper, Edward. Hotel Room 1931. 17. Hale, Lilian Westcott. L'Edition de Luxe 1910. 18. Chase, William Merritt. For the Little One 1896. 19. Hammershi, Vilhelm. Interior with a Lady 1901. 20. Hammershi, Vilhelm. Woman in an Interior 1900-1909. 21. Hopper, Edward. New York Interior c. 1921. 22. Dewing, Thomas Wilmer. The Spinet c. 1907.


v 23. Cassatt, Mary. The Tea c. 1880. 24. Tarbell, Edmund C. Arrangement in Pink and Gray, Afternoon Tea c. 1894. 25. Chase, William Merritt. Friendly Call 1895. 26. Morisot, Berthe. The Mother and Sister of the Artist 1869-70. 27. Dewing, Thomas Wilmer. A Reading 1897. 28. Tarbell, Edmund Charles. Three Girls Reading 1907. 29. Vuillard, Edouard. Women in an Interior c. 1900. 30. Hicks, George Elgar. Woman's Mission: Companion of Manhood 1863. 31. Tarbell, Edmund Charles. The Breakfast Room c. 1903. 32. Paxton, William McGregor. Breakfast 1911. 33. Sickert, Walter. Enuui c. 1914. 34. Degas, Edgar. Interior (Le Viol) 1868-69. 35. Hopper, Edward. Room in New York 1932. 36. Hopper, Edward. Summer in the City 1949. 37. Hopper, Edward. Summer Interior 1909. 38. Degas, Edgar. The Bellelli Family, 1858-1867. 39. Whistler, James Abbott McNeill. Harmony in Green and Rose: The Music Room 1860-61. 40. Degas, Edgar. HŽlne Rouart in her Father's Study 1886.


vi BEYOND DECORATIVE?: PAINTED IMAGES OF THE WOMAN AS PART OF THE CULT OF DOMESTICITY EugŽnie Fortier New College of Florida, 2012 ABSTRACT This thesis explores images of the middleto upper-class woman in her domestic realm from the mid-nineteenth century to the turn of the twentieth century, extending the topics observed via Edward Hopper's paintings to the middle of the twentieth century. Observed through Impressionist works, which attempted to show everyday life, the validity of these images becomes questionable; since they were primarily painted by male artists, it is possible that the models were depicted as particularly exemplary of the female stereotype. However, as the artists strived to capture reality, they seem to simultaenously capture an emotional state of ennui that is shared by these domestic women. Elements of the bourgeois woman's routine become perceivable in tropes of the lack of activity of repose, and the solitary activities of reading and sewing, during which the woman often seems to escape in a state of reverie. The woman is often made comparable to the space in her appearance, visually tying her to the domestic realm she is meant to decorate and inhabit. When other female subjects are added, the isolation of the figures remains, emphasizing a lack of connection even between similar subjects. More blatantly, the tension between the two sexes becomes apparent in images of couples in the domestic space. This almost tangible emotional state even becomes adopted by the space in which the figures are placed, allowing for the start for an exploration of the abstraction of the domestic interior. The


inclusion of Edward Hopper's works exhibits the detrimental effects of confining the woman to the home during the cult of domesticity, revealing a more universal unhappiness in modern times. Cris Hassold Division of Humanities


1 INTRODUCTION The domestic space has long been associated with the feminine, the family, and a place for interaction between the sexes. Depictions of these themes from a time period when they were most common in popular art as a result of the cult of domesticity, from the start of the Impressionist movement to the first few decades of the twentieth century. These works of art, seen in their abundance, become remarkable as works that often seem more prescriptive rather than descriptive. This thesis was inspired by my wanting to explore the notions behind such works, the links between the female and the domestic space, and searching for truths in the idyllic portrayals of these women. Edward Hopper's use of the room as a space of tension and psychological weight catalyzed my interest in the topic of the domestic space in art. While Hopper includes figures in his works, which display emotion through their stance and position, the way that the physical space in which they are placed amplifies these emotions and psychological states is especially intriguing. Upon seeing these, especially as they are repeated several times in Hopper's body of work, one begins to question how they reflect society and typical relationships of their time. Many of the isolated and depressed figures in Hopper's paintings are female, which are historically tied to the domestic space. It therefore seems logical to infer that exploring these images of the less-thanhappy woman in her supposed realm would be telling of the stereotypes about women at the time and the discordant way that they actually experienced such constricted lives. This led into an exploration of the domestic interior as a reflection of the psychological state of the people who inhabit it. As a personal space, the domestic interior becomes a space for one to express themselves, from the decorations with which


2 they adorn the space to the placement of furniture and the activities they perform in the home. Therefore, it would seem natural for it to also be a place for people to display their true emotions; it is interesting to see how often this is actually not the case, especially in depictions in paintings. It seems as if there is a tension that is created as a result; the restrained and hidden emotions of the figures are sometimes noticeable in their relationship with the space in which they reside and with the objects in that space. The contrast, however subtle, between the grandeur and beauty of the bourgeois life, and the ennui and depression of the women in those environments then comes into view, and it is suddenly somewhat dystopian. Art that roughly fits into the Industrial Age appears to be the most bountiful and informative on this topic: paintings ranging from around 1860 to the 1930s, but mostly those at the turn of the century. Around this time, the home had a growing importance and the role of the woman as belonging to the domestic space intensified. Also, the art of the time showing domestic interiors moved away from the typical genre painting and reflected more of everyday life. The depiction of the woman in the domestic interior is definitely not unique to this time period. The interior itself is generally ignored in art as a valid subject until the 1890s, being used simply as a setting or background space beforehand. However, even then, the domestic realm is dominated by the female, as seen in, for instance, fifteenthcentury Dutch paintings of the Virgin Mary. Dutch genre paintings of the seventeenth century display the interior more prominently, expressing values through "symbolic, factual, and emotional powers of the painted interior". 1 The interior becomes a site for the family, one for "all female rituals from courtship to motherhood," and thus, 1 Frances Borzello. At Home: the Domestic Interior in Art New York: Thames & Hudson, 2006, 30.


3 inevitably, also a space for recreation between the sexes. 2 From this point in art history, the room tends to have more of a presence as it becomes more carefully rendered, almost becoming a background subject as opposed to a plain backdrop. The interior becomes "necessary to the impression delivered by the picture". 3 The beginnings of such meaning being attributed to the interior is seen in the work of artists including Peter de Hooch, Jan Vermeer, and later, Fragonard and Greuze. While the female is unsurprisingly often present in these domestic interiors, she is also given the freedom to move between realms, as evidenced by other works by the same artists. Even here, though, she seems to be limited to spaces depending on their proximity from home, depending on whether or not she is accompanied. Watercolor depictions of the domestic space rose in popularity in the early-tomid-nineteenth century. Since watercolor at the time was not considered a serious medium of art, the progress made in the inclusion of the interior by itself is undermined by the materials used to produce it. The interior as subject matter at the time was associated with women, amateurism, and portraiture. Portraiture and the depiction of the domestic interior were actually both looked down upon, since both genres were seen as "only one step up from copying, considered the lowest form of artistic creation since [they] did not require the use of intellect and imagination". 4 Frances Borzello, author of At Home: the Domestic Interior in Art claims that the increased detail and inclusion of the domestic space in art becomes noticeable as early as 1815 in central Europe. After two decades of war, the upper and middle classes greeted the peace by turning to the comfort of the home and making it a central aspect of their 2 Borzello, 104 3 Borzello, 6 4 Borzello, 41


4 lives. 5 Academic John Tosh supports this, saying that domesticity was a nineteenthcentury invention: "Its defining attributes are privacy and comfort, separation from the workplace, and the merging of domestic space and family members into a single commanding concept (in English, 'home')...One can go further and say that it was an integral part of modernity: socially it was inconceivable without large-scale urbanization; culturally it was one of the most important expressions of that awareness of individual interiority which had developed since the Enlightenment". 6 The urbanization Tosh mentions is most readily observable in the Haussmannization of Paris in the mid-nineteenth century. City superintendent Baron Georges Haussmann was appointed by Emperor Napoleon III to restructure Paris. The changes made included new water and sewage systems, street lighting, and straighter and wider boulevards, in addition to new residential and commercial structures, and the creation of parks and better transportation hubs. 7 The development of railways coincided with and reinforced the development of suburbs, especially after 1856. Part of Haussmann's plan was to incorporate twenty arrondissements into Paris created from surrounding land, which also increased the city's population by approximately half a million people. Class segregation replaced the former social integration, as the bourgeois mainly occupied the suburbs and the upper class took to the inner city. These groups highlight the separation of the private and public spheres. The values of the society therefore changed, and as a result, so did its art. The separation of the public and private spheres during the time period being examined was the product of "the harsh realities of industrialization and the uncongenial atmosphere of Social Darwinism". 8 A cult of domesticity that glorified Woman and 5 Borzello, 81 6 Borzello, 41 7 Stephen Eisenman and Thomas E. Crow. Nineteenth Century Art: A Critical History New York: Thames & Hudson, 2002, 282. 8 Regina Markell Morantz. "The Perils of Feminist History." Women and Health in America. Leavitt, ed. Madison, Wisconsin: The University of Wisconsin Press, 1984. 239.


5 Home resulted from these changes; "Woman's psychological and cultural burdens became more onerous, even as her legal rights remained circumscribed. Her image was shot through contradictions: Guardian of the race, yet wholly subject to male authority; preserver of civilization, religion, and culture, yet considered intellectually inferior; the primary socializer of her children, yet with no more real responsibility and dignity than a child herself". 9 While the private sphere was associated with the female, increasingly, the public world became a masculine realm. "Almost invariably male institutions" dominated the public sphere, in which men occupied not only traditionally male jobs, but also in those that typically had a strong female presence, such as medicine, as well as those in new, expanding areas of activity. 10 Women who still worked were usually limited to occupations tied to the domestic sphere. The public sphere practically became hostile toward women; an unaccompanied female was frowned upon, while the male fl‰neur could do as he pleased, moving in and out of different realms, privileged and undisturbed. Overall, the woman became intrinsically tied to the domestic space. As the center of the art world at this time, the effects of the rebuilding of Paris infiltrated a vast majority of the art produced in this time period. With a few exceptions, it mainly became the case that to depict a woman, especially if she was in solitude, was to depict her in the home. Increasingly, the representation of the domestic sphere became more acceptable as art. Although preceded by the 1840s oil sketches of Adolph Menzel and the Biedermeier studio interiors, the interior shown in the art of the late nineteenth century carries a different kind of weight. The home becomes a place of comfort, one that represents everyday modern life without a need for a narrative. It can even be said to have become a style of painting. "Intimism," although it is not well recognized as an art historical term, is defined as the Impressionistically depicted intimate domestic interior 9 Morantz, 239 10 Janet Wolff. "The Invisible Flaneuse: Women and the Literature of Modernity." Theory, Culture and Society 2.3 (1985) 43.


6 in art. Bonnard and Vuillard are noted contributors to this style, though they veer toward abstraction. These Impressionist snapshots of everyday life present conventional beliefs and values of the period. The formal way in which the domestic space is represented then seems to take on a life of its own. This issue of representation translates also to the objects and people depicted in these places. Charles Harrison, author of Painting the Difference comments on the early twentieth century, "It is in terms of painting in France during this periodand indeed principally in Paristhat the manner in which women are pictured can be most easily connected to a critical concentration on the means of representation, and specifically to the use of the picture place as a significant moment in the eliciting of emotional response, and in the development of inquisitive selfconsciousness. In fact this suggestion might be turned around so as to produce the following conjecture: that the engagement of French painters with the psychological and technical problems involved in picturing women was a factor in establishing their work at the center of developments in the medium" 11 It is interesting to see how Harrison mentions the artist's yearning to elicit an emotional response from the viewer; hence, one could infer that the subject matter and setting become more infused with emotive and psychological significance. The relationship between the trapped female and her domestic setting therefore becomes increasingly physical in these paintings, and it can start to be read in the depiction of the domestic space. It is primarily the theme of the representation of the domestic-bound bourgeois woman during the period of time in which her life was defined by the cult of domesticity that emerges in a collection of these images. The cult of domesticity seems to have started as synonymous with the Cult of True Womanhood, which lasted from 1820-1860. The Cult of True Womanhood promoted the four "cardinal virtues of piety, purity, 11 Charles Harrison. Painting the Difference: Sex and Spectator in Modern Art Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2005. 149.


7 submissiveness, and domesticity" in women. 12 These core descriptors of women seem to have remained fairly strong throughout the span of the cult of domesticity, which lasted until the beginning of the twentieth century. Paintings in the cult of domesticity attempt to show the bourgeois woman as the respectable counterpart to the increasingly popular modern woman to which many artists turned their attention. The issue of the objectification of the woman in relation to her role as the decorator of the interior space also becomes prevalent in images of the interior. The depiction of women in which they seem visually or even physically tied to their surroundings is surprisingly common in images of women in the domestic space, as well. These paintings reveal the leisure of the domestic woman while unveiling the unexpected, yet undeniable, air of melancholy that this seclusive and sedentary life eventually would cause. Related to this are the relationships between the confined woman and figures that share the domestic space with her, such as a significant other; since this person is typically a man, the tension appears to be heightened, and the expected role of the woman is more observable. This thesis will explore works exemplary of the topic of the female in the domestic interior created starting in the Impressionist period by French and American artists, most of which studied art in France. These women initially appear to be primarily decorative, promoting feminine norms. In being depicted fairly realistically, though, the psychological and emotional reality of the domestic woman becomes observable. In an attempt to concentrate on the experience of the domestic middle-class woman individually, and in compliance with scholarship that notes that the "'perfect lady' was mother at only at certain times of the day, and then only when it was convenient to her," 12 Barbara Welter. "The Cult of True Womanhood: 1820-1860." American Quarterly 18.2.1 (Summer 1966) 152.


8 images of motherhood remain excluded from this discussion. 13 Images of the domestic woman which supposedly show her everyday affairs of repose and quiet domestic activities are observed as definitive aspects of her life. Her relationships with others reveal the amount, or lack, of power this privileged woman actually has over her space. Being works stemming from the Impressionist movement, these paintings are intended to show the contemporary reality of a woman's life in the domestic realm. Moving through the latter part of the nineteenth century and into the twentieth, similar themes remain apparent in domestic images as in Edward Hopper's works, exposing the emotional issues of the bourgeois woman in nineteenth-century paintings as more relatable and prevalent than simply being limited to the time of the cult of domesticity. 13 Patricia Branca. "Image and Reality: The Myth of the Idle Victorian Woman." Clio's Consciousness Raised. Eds. Mary S. Hartman and Lois Banner. New York: Harper & Row, 1974. 180.


9 CHAPTER 1: THE BOURGEOIS WOMAN IN REPOSE The ideal bourgeois woman at the end of the nineteenth century was one that exhibited the wealth and status of her husband in the home. With the separation of the private and public spheres, women were constricted to domestic spaces. As a member of the middle or upper class, the typical woman seen in a state of repose exemplified the leisure that her husband's status allowed her to have. This lack of physical activity and general isolation reinforces the stereotypical notions of femininity, such as weakness, passivity, and the association of the female with the body rather than the mind. While repose images at the turn of the century are actually quite common, to the point of having a large number of works from this period titled simply 'Repose,' especially among the Impressionists, they are seldom examined as true indicators of the personal experience of the sitter. The continuing course of inaction and inability to do much else, as the bourgeois woman experienced it, while showing the luxury of her life, simultaneously shows the ennui, melancholy, and restraint that many women in her position presumably endured. The portrayal of a woman in a state of repose reinforces her passivity; the subject can easily be objectified and become simply ornamental. This is especially noticeable in works by Sargent and Whistler. Beyond this aesthetic level, though, the seemingly lacking subject matter of images of repose actually reveal information about these solitary sitters in more subtle ways. Edouard Manet's portrait of Morisot displays some hidden tensions between the sitter and the artist, while his painting of Baudelaire's mistress also unveils the nature of the sitter's character. Most images of repose join the


10 multitude of Impressionist paintings that "show solitary women alone at home, gazing searchingly out of windows, into fires, or off into the middle distance, apparently suspended at some aching moment of unarticulated longing," in which the subjects seem "static and resigned," revealing that "the cult of domesticity could leave many women feeling marooned". 14 The ennui, as well as the resulting reverie, that the typical bourgeois woman must have experienced becomes undeniable in these paintings. Ultimately, though, an underlying consistency of promoting the female stereotypes of passivity and weakness becomes more literal in images that imply illness. The subjects in these images of repose seem to revert to state of reverie, a mental escape to their physical inactivity. Th e powe r of the differ ent sexes is very interest ing and prom inent in such pa int ings, considering the f act that the majority of the sitters are female and the ar tists m ale; not only is passiv ity of th e f emal e's role and her purpo se as a symbol being c aptured i n the work of art, but the resulting oeuvre itse l f reinforces such power re lation s in terms of th e gaze. Thornst ein Veblen, an Ameri can soc iologi st and e conom ist who wrote on the contemporary leisure class at the turn of the century, stated: A t th e stage of economic deve lop m ent at which the women w e re s t i ll in t he full sense th e prop erty of the men, th e performance of conspi cuou s le i su re and consumption came to be p art of the services required o f them. The w om en be ing no t t hei r own masters, obv i ous e xpenditure and leisur e on their part would redound to t he c redit of t heir maste r rather t han to t heir own credit; therefore the more expe nsive and t he m ore obv iously unprodu c t ive th e women of the hous ehol d a re, the mor e cre d i t able and the mor e effec t i ve for th e purpose of reputabili t y of t he household or its head will their life be." 15 Wh ile this may not actu al ly h ave been the exp e r ienc e of the bourgeois wom en, uphold ing this image was cruc ia l. Th e high soci al po si t ion must hav e required a cert ain a mount of respon sibili ty, proving these images of languor ina ccura t e. Women of 14 Pamela Todd. The Impressionists at Home London: Thames & Hudson, 2005. 44. 15 Wolff, 44.


11 afflu ence c er tainly en joyed a life of lei su r e, espec ially in compa rison to th eir m ale coun terpar ts, but "it wa s oft en a hec ti c pur suit of amusem ent th at was in real life quite far from the image of idleness proje ct ed in countle ss p ictur es". 16 Despit e this, i t is not diffi cul t to bel ieve that such moments of repose or boredom defin it e ly occurred in the da ily l ives of these bourgeo is women, or that paint er s may have exaggera ted th e s e mo men ts to further amplify th e extrem e differ ences betwe en the lives of men and women at the tim e. Imag e s of repose also emph a s ize the "corporeal quality to the idea and experi ence of the home," whe re to be 'at ho me' refers "not jus t to be ing pr ese nt but to being a t ease, which is itself a bodily state". 17 This way of depicting women may therefore have been considered the best way to represent the home overall. Th i s d ifference between the ac tiv e and pas s ive roles of men and women ar e furth e r notic eab l e in considering the re la tionship of these imag e s and thei r viewers. Although the hom e was meant to be th e femal e realm in the l at e ninet eenth c entury, the o wnership of man ov er the ho me and his wife is even apparent in the re lation of paintings to their viewers. During this period, the typical visual consumer of such images woul d have be en male, as we re the va st major ity of painter s. The intim acy of th e i nterior is violat ed by the v ie w er, who acts as th e fl‰neur in this casua l disruption of the securi ty and qu iet of the home. B enjam in a l so no tes the "Janus-faced natur e of the interior: on one h and, a sanctuary f r om which th e world could b e saf ely observeda 'box in the worl dth eatr e,' as th e crit ic put it; on the oth er hand, a stage one which one's most in ti m at e feelings cou ld be acted out with the gre ate st authen ti c ity ". 18 It see m s, ho we ver, 16 Susan P. Casteras and Hilarie Faberman. The Substance or the Shadow: Images of Victorian Womanhood New Haven: Yale Center for British Art, 1982. 22. 17 Berverly Gordon. "Woman's Domestic Body: The Conceptual Conflation of Women and Interiors in the Industrial Age." Winterthur Portfolio 31:4 (Winter 1996) 288. 18 Christopher Reed, ed. Not At Home: The Suppression of Domesticity in Modern Art and Architecture. New York: Thames & Hudson, 1996. 65.


12 th at th e domestic rea lm cou ld never be a full y feminin e realm; eve n if th at were the case, the man 'owning' the woman meant that he also owned whatever she did. Repose as Suggestive and Ornamental Edouard Manet's Repose: Portrait of Berthe Morisot 1870 (Figure 1), is one of the earlier paintings titled after this lack of activity. Renounced by viewers at the 1873 Paris Salon for Morisot's casual pose, the painting is often also regarded as uncharacteristic of Manet's style and thus seen as a sketch rather than a painting. 19 Morisot looks out, though not directly at the viewer; it is assumed that she may be looking at Manet. She has a glazed expression of reverie which is emphasized by the Japanese woodblock painting above her head, implying a cacophony of thoughts that distract her from the setting. Despite this, she seems quite comfortable, perhaps even beyond the realm of what would be acceptable for a bourgeois woman and a fellow artist. Although she is in Manet's studio, the space has a domestic atmosphere with its sofa and dŽcor. Morisot is in a semi-reclining pose, and she does not wear the typical laced-up boots of the period, but instead, cloth slippers. The fabric of her dress is pulled to the side, slightly flaring up in the direction in which she is looking; this in combination with her glance could actually be considered suggestive, especially considering the fondness Morisot harbored for Manet. However, any explicit sign of this would be completely unacceptable; as Mark Posner notes in his 1978 book about the nineteenth-century bourgeois family: "In everyday life, relations among members of the bourgeois family took on a distinct pattern of emotional intensity and privacy...Sexuality among this class, until recent changes, is one of the more astonishing features of modern history. Like no other class before, the bourgeoisie made a systematic effort to delay gratification. This led to sexual incapacities for both men and women...Among the bourgeoisie, women were viewed as asexual beings, as angelic creatures 19 Rhode Island School of Design Museum of Art Web.


13 beyond animal lust. When internalized, this image of women led to profound emotional conflicts...Prostitution was required by bourgeois males...because the 'double standard,' which originated with this class, made sexual fulfillment impossible for both spouses". 20 Upon closer observation, it seems as if Morisot is not totally relaxed, though, and she shows the restraint typical of the nineteenth century; she casually props herself up on an elbow, and the fan she holds in her right hand is closed, perhaps implying a sort of emotional restraint or conservatism. The whiteness of her dress in contrast to the setting strongly implies her innocence, and her lack of connection in her expression supports this notion, as she also appears doe-eyed and naive. Manet appears to simultaneously show the slightly more than platonic feelings while keeping the feminine ideals in the image. The contrast between Manet's Repose and his Portrait of Baudelaire's Mistress 1862 (Fig. 2), is quite striking. The white, billowing dress is the most readily observable similarity between the two, although here it appears humorously overdone. The pose and setting seem to imply that Manet is presenting this mistress as a bourgeois lady, while still letting it be known that this is a facade. The portrait could be a combination of caricature and fashion discourse, Therese Dolan claims, while reflecting the nature of Jeanne Duval's relationship with Charles Baudelaire as inferrable through Baudelaire's writings. The figure is reclining much more than Morisot, and from the expanse of her enormous dress stems a practically disembodied leg, which appears to be indicative of her more sexual nature, especially since the nineteenth century had a "fetishistic fascination" with the foot, which was usually concealed. 21 In support of this, the shoe she wears is not fully on her foot and seems ready to fall off. 20 Linda Nochlin. Representing Women New York: Thames & Hudson, 1999. 163. 21 Philippe Perrot. Fashioning the Bourgeoisie New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1994. 105.


14 Duval is largely defined by her dress in this portrait: the crinoline, composed of flexible steel hoops covered in vast amounts of fabric. The swaying of the crinoline could allow for glimpses of a woman's legs, supposedly reminding a viewer of the freely moving body under her skirt and thus seen as sexual teasing, hence Manet's emphasis on Duval's leg in her portrait. However, he presents her as much less demure as he allows for more than a quick glance. The fan she holds, in contrast to Morisot's, is prominently in view, starkly visible against the white dress, and partially open. As a concealing object, but also only strongly tied to commodity fetish, the fact that it covers the lower part of her torso accentuates her portrayal as a more sexual person. 22 It can be argued, though, that Manet may have been attempting to display Baudelaire's mistress as fashionable, since by the nineteenth century, the fan became a fashionable object that both was a display of modernity and carried an air of nostalgia alluding to the decorum of the eighteenth century. However, during the original period of prominence for the fan, the English word fan was also a slang term for the female genitals. 23 This object could also represent a woman's state of marriagability; an elaborate fan symbolized that a woman was married, so a simple white fan could signify that a woman was available. 24 While the fan Baudelaire's mistress holds is fairly plain, it is almost black, perhaps signifying the subject's unmarried and unmarriageable condition. Although she is not a prostitute, she is practically equivalent to it by being sexualized in a seemingly domestic setting. The foreshortening of the mistress's body amplifies the size of her hand, which clearly emphasizes the disproportionate depiction of her body while also making her appear less 22 Susan Hiner. Accessories to Modernity: Fashion and the Feminine in Nineteenth-Century France Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2010. 154. 23 Hiner, 148. 24 Hiner, 154.


15 stereotypically ladylike; the ornamental curtains behind her support this, since they appear more ornamental than the mistress or her dress, despite it taking up that vast majority of the picture plane. Her dress and the curtain interestingly seem to reflect each other in the way they fall across the picture plane. While the decorative curtain shows volume and movement across planes, however, the subject's dress does not, rendering her flat and uninteresting despite her foreground position. This has been related to Baudelaire's writings about Duval in 1859 and 1860, which communicate the poet's emotions toward "his mistress in her declining years when her beauty was but a memory and illness had wasted her body". 25 Portrait of Baudelaire's Mistress appears to have all the typical characteristics of a repose image, but Manet undermines this in small ways that combine to make the entirety of the image uncomfortable. Unlike most of the repose images, Baudelaire's mistress does not avert the gaze but rather confronts it in a somewhat aggressive manner. In this way, she subverts the feminine stereotypes associated with the image of repose and ultimately becomes a foil to such portrayals. Her glance is similar to that of the femme fatale; since such "stereotypical images of devouring, unreasonable womanhood" arose in the seventeenth century as a reaction to "fears about the vicious consequences of wealth," it is possible that Manet is playing into these male anxieties by showing Jeanne Duval as an image of consumption. 26 This is emphasized by the crinoline dress, as such a voluminous garment had to be specifically accomodated while restricting the movement of the wearer. Visually, though, she still seems trapped in her surroundings, as though by societal expectations. Manet seems to retort to her active gaze by making her consumable as an image; it has even been said 25 Therese Dolan. "Skirting the Issue: Manet's Portrait of Baudelaire's Mistress, Reclining." The Art Bulletin 79.4 (December 1997) 614. 26 Amanda Vickery. "Golden Age to Separate Spheres? A Review of the Categories and Chronology of English Women's History." The Historical Journal 36.2 (June 1993) 407.


16 that the left of the canvas shows the support of an easel. Her leg, hand, and visage are the only parts of her that are truly discernible from her dress and surroundings, almost as reminders that her sexuality gives her a sort of power that is foreign to the bourgeois women, and that gives her authority despite only being identified as Baudelaire's mistress. The bourgeois woman in repose ultimately seems to become more ornamental from this point. As the aesthetics of the twentieth century can be described in "four interconnected symbols of beauty: form, fetish, woman, and ornament," it is apparent that this has its roots in the late nineteenth century. 27 John White Alexander's contribution to repose images, appropriately titled Repose 1895 (Fig. 3), precisely shows the prominence of these elements. The woman depicted is defined by the form of her dress as she lies across the sofa. The viewer becomes entranced by the sitter's garment, a once again full, white dress. The image is quite sensual in the curvilinear outline of the woman's silhouette, which is amplified by the serpent-like black sashes that wrap around her. The arch of her back is emphasized, implying ecstasy. Her expression, peeking over her shoulder, is sensual and alluring in nature, looking out at the viewer seductively. The manner in which Alexander treats the figure is almost comparable to Gustav Klimt; although definitely not as visually busy or flat as Klimt's images, the forms that make up the composition in Repose take precedence, and the face is confined to a cramped area, the expression adding to the seductiveness of the forms. The fabric is literally highlighted in the image, as light shadows fall across the background and the figure's torso, revealing the areas of interest to the painter as the face and the billowy fabric of his model's dress. The woman is thus reduced to the 27 Wendy Steiner. Venus in Exile New York: The Free Press, 2001. 56.


17 ornamental, not only implying that she is artificial but also incomplete. 28 The provocative image somehow still remains quiet in its isolation of the figure. While the repression of sexuality, as previously mentioned, is a defining characteristic of the period, it seems that the intimacy of the private interior allows for it to show without betraying the signs of being a bourgeois lady. Repose as Disclosure of Ennui The 1911 Repose by John Singer Sargent (Fig. 4) shows the bourgeois woman in an ultimate state of rest and passivity. Sargent presents the viewer with a sleeping figure that is extremely constrained and therefore foreshortened due to the shallow space between the figure and the viewer. Between the passivity and the number of details Sargent includes in her garments, the woman becomes objectified. Although she should be in a state of extreme relaxation, she fits in the popular theme of "pictures of women assuming their public faces, their modern masks, in the ostensibly private sanctuaries" of their homes. 29 The clothing she wears is carefully rendered while retaining a loose brushstroke that enhances the softness and supposed femininity of the piece. The general haziness created by the formal qualities of the painting reinforce the vague sentiments and the resonance of the act of repose and emphasize the comfort of the interior. Comfort is a major component of Sargent's repose in this painting, although the subject's comfort may simply be because she is completely unaware of the viewer's voyeurism since she is asleep, suggesting that the state of comfort is meant for private moments of isolation. Teyssot, who has written an article on boredom in the home, describes comfort as the "absence of external stimulation," stating that the "notion of comfort is tied to the 28 Steiner, 69. 29 Steiner, 51.


18 body's alleged preference for a state untroubled by external disturbance: the zero degree of corporeal excitation". 30 This could explain why the previously discussed images could not fully show this relaxation due to the sitter's interaction with the viewer, who acts as a sort of external stimulation. Even though the figure is lounging, the awareness of the viewer shows in her pose, which then becomes somewhat provocative. Sargent's model, his niece, does not have this role in his Repose Because of this extreme comfort and relaxation, though, she almost becomes one with her setting and loses authority. Her clothing is treated rather extravagantly, but as in John White Alexander's painting of repose, it outshines the figure. In this instance, her body is completely masked by the overlying form of her clothes, which visually tie her to her surroundings. The printed shawl she on her lap is very reminiscent of the advice given by Emily Burbank in her 1920 book Woman as Decoration in which she states that a woman should "counter the effect of an unavoidable mismatch" between her self and her space by "carrying a 'portable background'--a chiffon scarf that could be thrown over a piece of furniture to provide her with a more agreeable color contrast". 31 As this woman does not drape the cloth over the furniture, the visual similarities between the repeating oval shapes of the scarf and the couch invite the comparison of the two, ultimately allowing the cloth to flatten her. The blueish tones in her dress, reflecting the hue on the wall, further connect her to her surroundings. The sitter simply becomes another object in the room. This image of repose seems to show the woman in a state of boredom. Seeing as her clothing is probably too constricting for her to partake in physically exhausting work, and interpreting it as a symbol of her class, the viewer is left to assume that this 30 Georges Teyssot and Catherine Seavitt. "Boredom and Bedroom: The Suppression of the Habitual." Assemblage (August 1996) 49. 31 Gordon, 299.


19 repose is not a rare moment of rest, but rather, a state that the sitter partakes in regularly. Repose therefore can function as a display of ennui, and can do so with a fair amount of certainty for the woman that exhibits this level of wealth and status. The general causes of ennui, "inaction or idleness, solitude or loneliness, monotony or dullness, fatigue or weariness" allow it to become a vicious cycle; these causes both produce and are continually reestablished by ennui, and the victim becomes stagnant in this physical, and possibly mental and emotional, state of being. 32 It seems as though these originators of ennui exemplify the ideal representation of the woman in a prestigious man's life. Perhaps, then, ennui is the ideal state of the bourgeois woman at the turn of the century. These repose images therefore may show the epitome of this ideal; the woman pictured is typically isolated and idle. Ironically, Jean-Pierre de Crousaz, in his 1715 TraitŽ du beau suggests that the general merit of beauty is to offer man an escape from ennui. 33 The decorative repose image of the woman's boredom therefore becomes the entertainment that prevents him from reaching this displayed state. Needless to say, John Singer Sargent's Repose is likely the most passive of such images, and could even fit into the genre of sleep and death imagery of the late nineteenth century. However, the ennui implied in his image is also noticeable in a 1921 Repose by Thomas Wilmer Dewing (Fig. 5). Ennui has been described by Emile Tardieu as "'a disease of nothingness,' a condemnation by the 'sense of the nothingness of life;" this seems to be implied in the desolate nature of the space. 34 Ennui is a perception of the void, and Dewing seems to recognize it as he emphasizes the sparseness of the room. The subject does not address the viewer, nor is she unconscious; she appears to be 32 Teyssot and Seavitt, 49. 33 Teyssot and Seavitt, 49. 34 Teyssot and Seavitt, 48.


20 contemplating her position as she practically vanishes into the room. Most of the objects in the room, and the woman herself, seem weak and barely there, airy and almost illusory. This could potentially allude to the woman's daydreaming. The color palette is very limited and repeats itself in areas that imply that the woman is seen as an object, inseparable from the space as even her skin tone blends with the background color of the room. Unlike typical images of repose, she is not on a sofa, but instead sits upright in a chair, and is therefore denied the physical comfort that seems crucial in such images. The viewer sees her in profile, and although she turns her head outward, she does not acknowledge the potential presence of an other. Although her expression is difficult to discern, she seems comfortable in her reverie; the repose may be more of a mental rather than a physical one, as opposed to an equilibrium of the two that typically composes a state of repose. The woman is quite literally constrained, almost caged, by the chair in which she sits, which appears rigid in contrast to her languid form, alluding to her constrictive role. The area most highlighted in the painting is actually her sleeve as it drapes over the arm of the wooden chair, which remains visible behind it. The same occurs with her dress, concealing the structure of the chair with its decorative qualities. While the space appears to be a larger one than in most repose images, it reads as flat and shallow; this is particularly noticeable upon looking at the angle of her dress as it meets the floor. What makes this especially odd is the small size of this painting, barely larger than a piece of paper, implying that this painting is a more personal one and thus probably not meant for display. Instead, it may have been meant to act as a reminder of the image to the owner, but it fails to fully display either the person or the space. There is a sense of incompletion and absence that the subject does not seem to want to address as she looks downward reflectively. The mental state of the sitter seems to become material


21 in the space, almost as a reflection of her; the opposite could also be happening, in which the space is affecting her. The room can be divided into two regions, the one on the right as empty and open, and the one on the left as busy and grounding. As she places her hand on the table, the woman physically connects herself to the material elements of the room, while her head, and thus, her mind, are in the more abstract space. The shadow that falls upon her face similarly divides it. In its multitude of subtle details, the image seems to describe the internal conflict of the bourgeois woman, who is expected to express herself as long as it fit within the stereotypical model of who she is supposed to be. As an intimate space, the nineteenth-century interior was meant to act as a sanctuary in which the individual was free to experience her feelings and reflections. Having a space of one's own, while undoubtedly having its benefits, could become too much of a good thing. The interior "refers to happiness, to protection; but it contains as well the seeds of boredom," since there is the possibility that it "protects too much, this mirrored interiority leads to a kind of excess of interior life, an exaggeration of introspection". 35 This introspection could ultimately lead to ennui. At this point, it is important to note the distinction between ennui and simple boredom: "Patricia Meyer Spacks, who has written a book on boredom, is careful to distinguish boredom from ennui. Ennui is closer to acedia she claims, the ancient state of elevated melancholy: a 'metaphysical malady' distinct from the ostensibly less important, less complex mental state of, say, the bored housewife. Historically, ennui was a condition in which its sufferers took a certain amount of pride. What could be more gripping than a 'state of the souldefying remedy, an existential perception of life's futility?'". 36 While it may not be true that the bourgeois woman who superficially seems bored is actually in a state of introspective, deeply melancholic ennui, the possibility remains. 35 Teyssot and Seavitt, 51. 36 Susan Sidlauskas. Body, Place, and Self in Nineteenth-Century Painting Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 143.


22 Interestingly, ennui seems strongly tied to the acts of deep thought and reflection, which would normally be attributed to the realm of the mind, typically associated with the male. Paradoxically, ennui is consistently implied in images of the woman in the domestic interior at the turn of the century, which often also enhance the notion of the woman being associated with the body. Perhaps, in some slight and often overlooked way, these images show the woman as being complete and capable of being in the real world, but being unable to do so due to social standards. The unfortunate counterpoint to this is that this contemplation is not one of intellectual pursuit, since it seems to be mostly self-reflection and therefore could be considered vain. The potential for this glimpse of the emotional or mental state of the female sitter, however, can be surprisingly revealing. The woman being confined to the home thus denies her desire for or interest in the external world. One of the more popular images showing the separation between the public and private spheres, in addition to the woman's encasement in the domestic realm, is Berthe Morisot's The Artist's Sister at a Window 1869 (Fig. 6). The theme of the woman at a window is actually quite prevalent among images of the domestic interior in the late nineteenth century. Morisot is doubling the space that she shows while emphasizing its division. This view of the exterior amplifies the contrast between it and its domestic opposite. The position of the woman in society is underlined; she is essentially a caged bird. In this instance though, Morisot shows her sister as so removed and distant from the exterior world that she seems to deny its existence. Since she knows it is not hers to enter, she does not acknowledge it, but instead sits quietly observing her fan. A symbol of the contemporaneity and the modern woman, the fan seems to represent a part of the sitter's character which she is contemplating. Her expression is one that


23 shows restraint and discontentment as she stares at an element of her femininity. Morisot's painting of her sister was made "shortly before the birth of Edma's first child a daughter, Jeanneand we sense that the long passive days of her pregnancy are beginning to sap the young woman's spirit". 37 The painted fan's colors actually bear resemble to those visible from the open window, as though this object were even a visual replacement for the outside. As Morisot's sister is shown in a setting that includes more than just the piece of furniture on which she is situated, the painting shows the domestic space in which the woman has influence, although it is modestly displayed. The figure herself appears flat, due to the simplistic depiction of her dress, but she does not merge with her surroundings. She seems to not quite belong or fit in her current setting, although it is clear that this is where she must remain. The stark, black lines in the image make this explicit. The vertical line separating the shutter from the outside acts as a visual barrier; even if the eye moves past this, the railing from the balcony adds another layer of distance from the urban exterior. Taking it to an extreme, the black horizontal coming from the right of the image stops when it reaches the woman, visually acting as an arm or a leash holding her in place as it connects with the shadow of her hair. The amount and effect of excessive layers of separation between the two spheres, visually and societally, are astounding. It has been repeatedly stated by historians of this time period that the sheer "presence in either of the domains," public or private, "determined one's social identity and therefore, in objective terms, the separation of the spheres problematized women's relation to the very activities and experiences we typically accept as defining modernity". 38 If one considers the mid-twentieth-century writings of philosopher 37 Todd, 44. 38 Griselda Pollock. Vision and Difference: Femininity, Feminism, and Histories of Art. London:


24 Vladimir JankŽlŽvitch and accepts his view that the passing of time can be determined either as ennui, adventure, or seriousness, it becomes quite remarkable how the woman only truly has access to ennui. 39 Of these, ennui is the only form of the passing of time which can be totally performed within the home; adventure of course requires the exploration of the unknown, requiring departure from home, and seriousness, although it is not very clearly defined in these terms, does not seem to fit the frivolous actions of the domestic woman. The escape from ennui is therefore unavailable to the bourgeois woman, and she is left subject to this determining the passing of her time. As a state of being that easily becomes cyclical and never-ending, the passing of time can become irrelevant, as time appears rather stagnant for one in a state of ennui. As it would then become a part of everyday life, ennui, being the failure of happiness, could even become a reminder of what could be to the woman experiencing it, but having this happiness be unreachable, as well. The bourgeois woman is thus stuck in a state of unhappiness, exclusively limited to the home and therefore unable to participate in the modern exterior world, but unable to fully enjoy the luxury of her life at home. It seems as if Morisot's painting of her sister keenly expresses this sentiment of the explicitly inaccessible space, and the disconnection with the space in which she can supposedly express herself and make her own. For Berthe Morisot, as a woman, to paint another woman this way, especially one with whom she has such a close relationship, would seem to be particularly truthful and revealing of the actual experience of the bourgeois woman. At the same time, though, Morisot is representing the life that she as an artist has abandoned, which ironically seems to reinforce the freedom of her own choice in rejecting this lifestyle. Routledge, 1988. 69. 39 Teyssot and Seavitt, 48.


25 The Woman in Repose as Invalid The bourgeois woman was viewed as something that "needed to be protected and isolated, ensconced in a world of ideal truth and beauty". 40 The notion of purity is implied here, as is a kind of danger if she were to venture outside the domestic realm beyond that of her reputation. During the late nineteenth century, health concerns became more prominent. Increasingly, the city and industrialization became associated with illness, while health was associated with the country and nature. 41 Typically living in the suburbs, the bourgeois woman would be in a liminal space between the two, precariously on the the brink of illness. Regardless of whether or not the issue of illness is actually a legitimate concern, it seems as if imagery that would suggest a sort of sickness in its subject is a common occurrence in paintings from the late nineteenth century. From the ambiguous state of the repose to the depiction of the female invalid, images suggesting unhealthiness in the female sitter promote female stereotypes of weakness and passivity to the extreme. Presenting a woman in this fashion would therefore reinstate once again her role in society. New England Woman 1895, by Cecilia Beaux (Fig. 6) shows what seems to be an invalid woman in profile as she looks out of a window. Although there is no literature specifically referring to her as an invalid, the composition shows a bed behind her, which suggests the need for bed rest, a common remedy for illness among women at the turn of the century. She also wears a bonnet that seems to be an article of clothing meant simply to be worn inside the home. While it is typical of images at this time to lack a narrative, 40 Frances K. Pohl. Framing America: A Social History of American Art New York: Thames & Hudson, 2002. 269. 41 Diane Price Herndl. Invalid Women Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2003. 152.


26 the implication of possible action leading up to this moment in time is present, but the viewer is deprived of this information. The woman portrayed limply holds a letter in her hand, resting on her lap as she presumably contemplates its contents as she looks out the window. She holds a fan that she does not use, but its yellow and green tones are prominent as they contrast their cool, pastel surroundings, perhaps left as a clue to the viewer of the subject's possible illness. Yet, none of these elements specifically portray her as ill or well. Diane Price Herndl, who has written a book on invalid women in the nineteenth century, claims that the invalid is a popular theme in the art of this period as it describes the relationship of the ill woman to power and culture. She touches on the possibility that the invalid acting as a symbol for the larger interaction of the woman and society as she claims that the depiction of the invalid "describes the historical status accorded to ill women's (and maybe all women's) desires: not valid". 42 Not only could the invalid then act as the best description of the nineteenth-century woman through showing exaggerated norms, but the intense protection and marginalization of such a person could also reveal the ideal position of a woman in society. If the New England Woman actually is invalid, the title implies that Beaux sees these qualities of illness as descriptive of the lives of women in general. Illness "represented feminine refinement, wealth and leisure; it was a condition to which women aspired". 43 Reference to this state of being could then, broadly speaking, allude to the feminine ideal: "Whereas women in general are characterized as weak and lacking power, better off staying quiet at home, the invalid is specifically recognized as even weaker and more powerless than most women and is required to stay at home. Whereas women have been discouraged from involving themselves in productive work, the invalid has been absolutely forbidden it". 44 Images referencing the invalid thus presents the extreme obedience of societal norms, to 42 Herndl, 1. 43 Herndl, 152. 44 Herndl, 2.


27 the point of being physically unable to act in any other way. The Victorian ideology of the woman as 'body' is also intrinsic in this theme, but the woman is not in control of her body, but rather limited by it. She is weak and fragile in the most dire sense. Regardless of whether or not the woman Beaux presents as the New England woman is in fact invalid, the similarities between her and women in other repose images are prevalent. The clothing she wears, a white dress, is reminiscent of that worn by women in repose images. This being the recurrent mode of dress for these women in a state of rest may reference the 'morning gown,' worn over a loose corset and typically seen as the casual clothing women could wear in the early hours of the day as she relaxed in solitude in the bedroom or boudoir. 45 While women at home were not expected to go out, they did not tend to stay in such outfits for the entirety of the day, but instead conformed to the extravagant dress of the period, which often matched their dŽcor in the domestic interior. Displaying the woman in this dress specifically meant for the experience of privacy in the home strongly ties her to the home. The reverie that is sometimes seen in the woman in repose is reflected in Beaux's sitter's contemplative nature, although this may not be as strongly tied to ennui, as she may be simply reflecting upon the contents of the letter she holds. She seems rather melancholy as she looks out the window. Instead of placing emphasis on the difference between the inside and outside world, Beaux seems to utilize the theme of the window as one allowing for reflective thought, with its light as metaphor for a realization that the sitter may have. Of the images observed in this paper, New England Woman is the only one in which the woman is not fully in the frame. This could be due to the close-up suggesting the introspective state of the woman. While she is grounded 45 Todd, 158.


28 physically in the space, her mind allows her to escape. Assuming she were invalid, the woman in this painting is depicted in a respectable manner, in which she still has autonomy in her thought. However, she remains visually tied to and grounded in the space that she must occupy, the home. Although this particular image does not weaken or make the woman appear frail and helpless, it does remind the viewer that elements that allude to illness and the woman as invalid are active in portrayals of the woman in the domestic realm, since such details emphasize the stereotypical properties of the bourgeois woman constricted to the home. Reverie as Product of Repose This level of inactivity and contemplation becomes a theme in images of the woman in the domestic space. There is therefore a distance implied, one that separates the woman from her reality. The window emphasizes this wishful daydreaming, while situating the woman in her realm and ensuring that the venture into the outside world, for her, happens only through thought. Claude Monet paints his wife in this position. Unlike the women in white dresses, Madame Monet is modestly dressed in a black, heavy garment that has accents of color that are visually repeated throughout the room. Meditation: Mme Monet on a Sofa 1866 (Fig. 8), seems to show the more advanced state of enclosure in the home. The title implies that Monet realizes this about his wife's life, that her only form of escape is actually a cycle of thought that reinstates her restriction to the domestic realm. The visual similarities, although not too blatant, between the woman and her surroundings shows the role of the woman as decorator in the interior. While contemporary literature celebrates the bourgeois woman as the creator of the domestic interior, even to the point of claiming that she could make it her art, the


29 aesthetic power of the typical bourgeois woman is simply limited to that space. Of course, the housewife is also expected to be in vogue, which takes precedence over the self-expression that is meant to occur in the decoration of one's home. In addition, her constant pressure not to clash with her surroundings often makes her blend into them instead; the "feminine intimacy with objects" becomes so great that the bourgeois woman herself becomes a part of the dŽcor. 46 This is apparent in the vast majority of paintings of women in domestic interiors, and it would be na•ve to expect this to simply be the artist's aesthetic choice for a harmonious painting. The heavy black that is seen in Mme Monet's dress is again observable in the curtains on the right, while it also anchors her at the left of the painting to the shadow beneath the sofa. The red and white collar and bow-tie accents of her outfit become repeated in the pattern of the couch. Even the book she holds is red, acting more as a decoration than a source of entertainment or knowledge. Instead, in this setting in which she formally fits perfectly, Mme Monet distantly gazes away. She is anchored in her the space and seems to realize this to the point of not even fully drawing the curtains, and she daydreams without need of a reminder of her stagnant social position. Despite her visual connection to the space, and her fulfillment of her role as the decorative, decorating domestic woman, Mme Monet still does not connect with her space and remains in a state of ennui. The domestic space and the woman inhabiting it appear to be coequal in images for a period of time, but one inevitably starts to dominate the other. American artist Edmund C. Tarbell, who is known for his paintings of women in interiors, displays this particularly well. In the circa 1899 painting Across the Room (Fig. 9), the viewer is confronted by a vast expanse of light dancing across the floor of the space before 46 Lisa Tiersten. Marianne in the Market: Envisioning Consumer Society in Fin-de-Siecle France Berkeley: University of California Press, 2001. 30.


30 reaching the figure in the background, who only occupies the left half of the top third of the image as she relaxes on a sofa. Her form, as defined by her dress, is emulated by the fabric draped on both arms of the couch. Again, the figure is placed near a window, but does not look out. She does not even see the beauty that Tarbell obviously remarks in the light reflecting on the floor; her look seems dazed. She is the ennuyŽ experiencing the unhappiness of being too happy or comfortable in her life, and thus seems to fail to recognize the small wonders as the artist does. 47 The space in which she is situated, in opposition to the amount of potential, yet vacant space, seems indicative of her place in society and the entrapment she experiences in being confined to the domestic realm. It is almost as though she cannot relate to this spontaneous, natural beauty that is the light on the floor, since she seems stuck in the background with all the stereotypical elements of feminine decoration. The figure appears even more static than she normally would as she is contrasted with the movement that Tarbell creates in the brushstrokes and colors in the floor. While it is also enclosed, the light maintains a movement and an intrigue that Tarbell seems to comment is lost in the woman, who remains inactive in her ennui. The beauty of the space challenges that of the more conventional symbol of beauty, the female. It seems to have more presence than she does, and it is the atmosphere that is largely created by the exquisiteness of the floor that makes this image aesthetically pleasing. Conclusions Images of repose and of the solitary of the bourgeois woman in the domestic space at the turn of the century mainly acted as reinforcements of the female stereotypes. 47 Teyssot and Seavitt, 48.


31 Such stereotypes are seen at their most extreme in the image of the invalid; interestingly, it sometimes becomes difficult to distinguish between the feminine ideal, what the bourgeois woman should be, and the invalid. Overall, however, in the act of viewing these images, the viewer becomes a voyeur intruding on the supposed private realm of the female. Although she should be able to express herself in her home, the bourgeois woman is still expected to conform to decorations that are in vogue and the like. The result is a woman that is stuck in a setting, constantly battling the erasure that she is expected to perform by blending with her environment. Ennui thus becomes the prominent emotion and state of being for this figure, showing the immense negative effects of the unhappiness of being happy. In comparing these images of the bourgeois woman repose to Manet's Portrait of Baudelaire's Mistress the contrictive role and conservative way of presenting oneself even in a state of comfort and relaxation becomes apparent. Other than her physical limitation to the home, the bourgeois woman is also expected to have a certain decorum. It seems as though her only evasion of this is to indulge in a state of reverie.


32 CHAPTER 2: DOMESTIC ACTIVITIES Artists depicting the woman in the domestic interior in the late nineteenth century showed her performing various tasks throughout the day. Similar to images of repose, the art of this time highlights activities in which the bourgeois woman could participate with a minimum of physical labor, since her husband's financial success was often gauged by his wife's idleness. 48 The leisurely pastimes of the domestic woman often emphasize her solitude, but the meaning of such occupations do not seem to suffer from the addition of one or more women, creating a homosocial space. Both isolated and group domestic activities show that, "while they might often, in the nineteenth century, be the antithesis of the spaces of thought and action in the public (and predominantly masculine) sphere, spaces of femininity might also, for some women, actually serve as sites of intellectual and creative production". 49 From the late 1800s to the beginning of the twentieth century, reading, sewing, and having tea are among the most often depicted domestic activities of women in art. Literature on the individual level of responsibility the bourgeois woman had in the domestic space during this time period either argues that this woman had a tremendous amount of work that she personally had to do or claims that her life truly was one guided by leisure. Supporting the former, some literature on the cult of domesticity claims that the woman being confined to the home gave her a tremendous amount of domestic responsibility. As the control of the home became primarily the woman's, her work within it could even have become comparable to the masculine world of work. 50 Despite 48 Pohl, 241. 49 Nochlin, 194. 50 Borzello, 129.


33 the numerous tasks she completed throughout the day, her work was restricted to maintaining the appearance of the home (though usually through ordering the servants), taking care of her family, and entertaining visitors. The more fortunate bourgeois woman was able to transfer this responsibility to servants, whose work she would often be occupied in overseeing. Regardless, it would be extremely out of the ordinary to find images showing such activity. When servants of this time are depicted in paintings, the art is usually Realist, and this service class is rarely depicted with the members of the bourgeoisie except in the occasional background. Therefore, the supervising of household tasks is not an activity that is visually recorded by artists at the end of the nineteenth century. Without such images, paintings of the bourgeois woman in her home give the impression that she is an embodiment of leisure, portrayed as "having pastimes, not occupations" and indulging in the useless labor that had replaced utilatarian work. 51 52 Images of the Bourgeois Woman Reading The usual treatment of the act of reading in association with the sexes is exhibited in Edouard Manet's 1848 The Lecture (Figure 10). The early date of this painting shows the beginnings of this as prior to the exclusive division of the spheres. Although the lady is at the center of the composition and is predominant in the image, the painting is strangely titled by the actions of the man behind her. The title is actually quite ambiguous; 'lecture' in French simply implies the act of reading, but the way in which it is translated makes it seem like the man may be dictating to the woman through reading to her. This would fit with the bourgeois ideal of the woman as conspicuous consumer in 51 Bailey Van Hook. "Decorative Images of American Women: The Aristocratic Aesthetic of the Late Nineteenth Century." Smithsonian Studies in American Art 4.1 (Winter 1990) 59. 52 Perrot, 90.


34 on a level beyond the material. At the same time, though, the two characters seem fairly separate in their actions, the man entranced by the book as the woman longingly looks out at the viewer. Her back is to the window, while the man faces it, but he does not have to address it to be confident in that he can venture into this realm, or into the realm of knowledge. His mind is emphasized here, so he is not required to be fully pictured in the image; the woman is, by contrast, very much associated with the body. Her inaction emphasizes the nothingness that she is left with as the man claims the realms beyond the home. The man is isolated in a dark spot in the upper right corner of the image, while the woman blends in perfectly with the decorative space. Starting around this 1850 and continuing for the next century, the connection between women and their houses in Western middle-class culture was so strong that it helped shape the perception of both [] The woman was see as the embodiment of the home, and in turn the home was seen as an extension of heran extension of both her corporeal and spiritual self". 53 The space, which seems to become hazy through the endless layers of translucent white fabric, thus becomes one representing reverie, reflecting the dreamlike softness of this state of mind. The fabrics of the curtains, the draped sofa, and the woman's garments all seem to be one and the same, erasing the distinction between the figure and the ground, rather embedding her in it. The window and sofa are treated in the same fashion as the figure, as if they all were dressed to match. In this sense, the body is symbolically proclaimed in the interior, and the woman and the home merge together. The room creates an air of femininity with its flowing fabrics and light. The outside is brought in, in the form of a potted plant, so that the woman does not have to concern herself with the exterior. Her black necklace actually appears to have touches of green, relating her to the 53 Gordon, 282.


35 now also captive part of nature that is the plant. Her hand placed on the couch beside her suggests an emptiness greater than the physical absence of the man. This yearning for something more, viewed in combination with her expression, seems actually quite hopeless, and the woman ensconced in the space seems to recognize this, as well. At the turn of the nineteenth century into the twentieth, feelings about the strictness of the cult of domesticity seemed to change. Conservatives "sought to restrict women to the domestic sphere, touting women's established responsibilities as a privilege;" conversely, progressive thinkers saw household duties as "an obstacle to feminine achievement" and encouraged women to "burst forth from the home to better herself," and, by association, her family. 54 The printed word interestingly could have acted as a compromise between the two as it became a crucial factor in expanding the limits of the female sphere. Newspapers allowed women to keep in touch with current events and politics of the outside world, while books reinforced the notions of feminine roles like that of a teacher to her children and conveyor of moral propriety within the home. 55 At the same time, novels and poetry could offer an escape from both of these realms into that of reverie and imagination. Images of domestic activities such as reading presented a "comforting picture of domestically employed young womanhood [which] came at a timedisturbing for somewhen women were becoming independent members of the workforce". 56 The typical image of a female reader in nineteenth-century paintings resemble Jean-HonorŽ Fragonard's Young Girl Reading, circa 1770 (Fig. 11). The cropped composition of a sitter, pictured from the waist up, shows her in profile. She tilts her 54 Helene Barbara Weinberg. American Impressionism and Realism: The Painting of Modern Life, 18851915 New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1994. 51. 55 Weinberg, 251. 56 Borzello, 159.


36 head slightly downward as she reads. This paragon of beauty and leisure somewhat dismisses the notion of casual reading as a superficial activity; the artist displays the reader's intellect simply in through her concentration and ladylike composure. At the same time, though, this could simply be emphasizing the feminine attributes of the sitter as she performs this activity, showing how this is an acceptable pastime for a young woman. The book she holds is also fairly small, promoting the individuality of the task while possibly undermining the importance of the text in making it appear trivial. It would not be erroneous to assume that such a format for a painting is typically reserved for portraits, since the image rarely includes much information outside of the person and her activity. Regardless of the format, though, the sitter is not identified, undermining the portrait-like quality of the piece. The viewer is denied access to information about the material the woman is reading, and so it becomes mostly an image of her form as she quietly engages in this reserved activity. The demure aspect that is implied in the Fragonard, while it may be attributed to the sitter's age, could also be engendered by the reference to the devotional reading performed by the Virgin Mary in images of the Annunciation. This visual allusion elevates the value of this activity while legitimizing it as a respectable pastime; mainly, though, it promotes the idea of virtue as linked to this activity, regardless of the reading material. While many of the paintings of female readers produced at the end of the nineteenth century reference this pose so explicitly and often that they become homogenous, works that deviate from the mold established by Fragonard are more informative about their sitters and their everyday life. Books were often depicted as accessories comparable to gloves or small dogs in paintings of women in the nineteenth century, but it seems as if they only surpassed this


37 meaning in the latter part of the century. 57 The general consensus was that a woman sitting down to read a book was her indulging in a frivolous pastime, whereas it was deemed intellectual pursuit for a man to do the same. 58 Many paintings of women reading actually carry a more serious tone, as if the artist were aware of this assumption and attempted to subvert it in the images. Reading 'Le Figaro', by Mary Cassatt, 1883 (Fig. 12), is known for its rejection of the notion of reading as a frivolous activity. While the basic similarities in the pose and composition exist between the template set up by Fragonard and Le Figaro Cassatt makes her subject more three-dimensional, both visually and as a subject. The threequarter view of the artist's mother renders her in a realistic fashion, separating her from her surroundings instead of flattening her or integrating her too much with the background. Instead of reading the expected novel, Cassatt's mother is reading a serious political paper. The artist is thus making a strong statement about modernity and equality, since this particular kind of reading material, the newspaper, is usually reserved for male sitters in paintings. 59 The sitter is simultaneously undermining the assumption that reading in paintings should be "regularly dismissed, when noted at all, as simply a convenience of the sitting, giving the model something to do while being painted;" she is actively engaged in her reading, and Cassatt seems to simply be recording an activity that regularly occurs. 60 The reflection of the paper in the mirror in the shallow background metaphorically represents the sitter's reflection on its content and adds to the depth of the space in the painting, which may feel constricting without it. The emphasis is placed on the reading material and the artist's mother's serious contemplation and 57 Borzello, 77. 58 Todd ,61. 59 Todd, 61. 60 Garrett Stewart. "Painted Readers, Narrative Regress." Narrative 11.1 (May 2003) 126.


38 concentration, privileging the intellect of the sitter over presenting a more decorative image. Formal properties of Le Figaro further emphasize this. The sitter seems comfortable as she leans back into the armchair, but the position of her head suggests the alert and contemplative nature with which she reads the paper. The space above her shoulders is clear, perhaps alluding to the abstract outside world that she enters upon reading about it. The artist's mother is well situated and comfortable in her physical position in the home, but can separate herself from it intellectually if she pleases. Henri Matisse's Woman Reading 1894 (Fig. 13), though painted prior to the artist adopting his signature style, is almost somber in its austere realism. Presumably influenced by Dutch genre painting, Matisse presents an image of a woman reading in a room, though he only includes part of the room as opposed to the traditional inclusion of the entire space. The woman pictured has her back to the viewer, amplifying the sense of isolation and privacy one experiences in reading. The woman seems to be completely absorbed in her book, to the point of possibly neglecting her domestic duties. Although her chair is angled toward this side of the painting, the left side of the canvas is consumed by disorderliness that is not often seen in bourgeois settings. The door on a cupboard-like piece of furniture is left ajar, while the items piled on it appear to simply have been left there rather than placed as decoration, although the green and gold objects do pair well with the wallpaper. The sense of escape is emphasized; even though the tasks to be completed are literally in front of her, the woman is able to separate herself from them through reading. The background further displays the separation between the two, as the plain, brownish-red wall behind the woman is almost the perfect complement to the green wallpaper on the adjacent wall. The space behind the woman is clear, perhaps representing her state of mind as she escapes in the reverie provided by


39 her reading. Unfortunately, it is difficult to tell whether Matisse sees this activity favorably. This painting, on one hand, could glorify the experience that a book may bring to its reader, allowing her to occasionally distance herself from tedious and repetitive domestic tasks that contribute to keeping up an appearance. On the other, the image could highlight the dangers of this trivial activity, which may cause a woman to neglect her domestic duties to the point of the home becoming unkempt. The composition of the sitter having their back to the audience, thus letting the viewer assume the role of reading over their shoulder, is quite common for paintings showing this activity. The resulting effect is one that seems more realistic as the viewer approaches the reader, capturing the immediacy and banality of happening upon someone reading. However, while this situation in reality would probably relay more information about the reading material, the paintings undermine this satisfaction of curiosity; only the reader is allowed to enter this world, emphasizing the sense of privacy. In fact, the composition denies all information about the reading material, as the reader's expression cannot be observed. Information then becomes more visually reliant on the inclusion of the space in which the individual is performing this task. An intense depiction of the same activity is remarkable in a painting by Harriet Backer showing a woman reading at night in her home. By Lamplight 1890 (Fig. 14), is initially striking in its complementary colors and dark shadows. Backer often depicts women in domestic interiors, endowing female activities with dignity; this is even visible in the lighting she chooses for this painting. The oil lamp in paintings of this time signifies an increased comfort within the home since it provided stronger light for inside activities. 61 The resulting lighting effects were also of interest to artists, although 61 Borzello, 70.


40 dramatic interior lighting effects and chiaroscuro were reserved for representations of men. Therefore, "[w]hereas paintings of women by lamplight concentrate on the effect of a little light in a dark space, men by lamplight are often an excuse for an exploration of strange and showy light effects". 62 The strong, cast shadows in By Lamplight thus elevate the painting to a level that allows the woman's activity to be considered comparable to the intellectual pursuit of men performing the same task, since the subject is treated as it presumably would have been for a male sitter. For instance, although there is no true inclination of it, it has been said that this painting shows the determination and seriousness of a woman studying by lamplight. However, By Lamplight may simply display a woman so engrossed in a book that she is reading it into the night. The woman's shadow is prominent on the right side of the painting, but it is heavily contrasted by the light shining on the white wall behind the furnace on the opposite side of the room. This could be read as the woman's intellectual pursuits as being in opposition to her domestic duties. Because of the play of light and shadow, the room starts to appear slightly surreal, leaving the viewer unsure of its true dimensions; the white wall actually appears to overlap the two that meet it. It is almost as if the structure is imposing itself on the room in an attempt to dominate the scene. As in the previously discussed Woman Reading the woman is facing this visual element that, as the hearth, strongly alludes to the entirety of the home, but she does not pay attention to it. The visual echo of the dark opening of the furnace in the window by which the woman reads may also be alluding to the choice that must be made between the duties of the home and the outside world. In their darkness, it would seem that both would be equally encompassing. The woman pictured, however, appears to be able to have both. She is 62 Borzello, 73.


41 positioned toward the hearth, but the space above her head relates her to the outside world; through her reading, she is able to temporarily escape the home and and explore beyond it, even if it is only in her imagination. The transformation of a task into a static image remarkably changes the essence of the activity. The reading material depicted in images of domestic activity, presumably a novel, presents the reader with a narrative. Thus, the reader is mentally involved in a story that cannot be related to the voyeur of the scene. Especially for Impressionist paintings, the viewer is simply left with the image of the individual performing the task as a snapshot of everyday life; further information is neglected or denied. A tension is therefore created between the internal narrative and action taking place for the sitter and what the viewer sees. Garrett Stewart addresses this in his articles on painted readers, claiming that "painted reading can recruit narrative energy even while removing it from view," meaning that the resulting images encompass "all the unpictured activity induced by the subject's immersion in [the reading's] so-called contents, entirely transactive in nature". 63 Since the narrative energy is not readily observable in the sitter, the style in which the image is painted and the inclusion of the sitter's surroundings can often reveal the aura of the reading material's content, hence the inference that Backer's By Lamplight is a scene showing a more studious activity. What becomes the secrecy of the reading material to the viewer can cause the painting to have a more mysterious tone. The dark foreground in Girl Reading by Edmund C. Tarbell, 1909, (Fig. 15) seems to reference this. As Matisse does in Girl Reading Tarbell seems to reference interiors by Pieter de Hooch and Johannes Vermeer 63 Stewart "Painted Readers, Narrative Regress" 125. Garrett Stewart. "Mind's Sigh: Pictured Reading in Nineteenth-Century Painting." Victorian Studies 46.2 (Winter 2004) 219.


42 in his composition, though his allusion to these artists is more noticeable than Matisse's. Such an emulation of well-known art may help elevate the subject matter of this painting to that of high art. The entire room is included, showing a few scattered pieces of furniture; the room appears quiet and reflects the assumed mood of the sitter. Although the room contains elements that show the space's dŽcor as being in vogue, such as the Japanese vase in the foreground, these are not the visual focus of the piece. Instead, Tarbell makes the viewer concentrate on his characteristic inclusion of light in the enclosed space, which dominates the scene. He seems to literally highlight the occurring activity. Tarbell's careful attention to the properties and grandeur of light as it filters through a window and fills a room has caused viewers such as critic Charles C. Caffin to interpret his pictures as "at once an expression of the beauty of holiness and the holiness of beauty". 64 The combination of the visual allusion to past art and the nature of the light ultimately spiritualize the scene. While elements that reference the home are grounding, the light in the background also highlights the book and torso of the woman reading, perhaps alluding to the stereotypical image of the sitter in profile as demonstrated by Fragonard. The rest of the image, almost a still life, dulls in meaning and significance, regardless of its foregrounded position. Among them, the subject would risk being seen as an object as well if it was not for the light from the window. The woman, in modern dress, is one of the few pictured female characters in Tarbell's work that is not a member of his family. Tarbell deceptively painted this image in his studio, having arranged it so that it would mimic his own home, which actually was full of decorative items and furniture. 65 The simplicity of the task is therefore emphasized, perhaps showing the New England values of clarity and modesty. The artist depicts her on a wooden chair, 64 Van Hook "Decorative Images of American Women" 25. 65 Borzello, 159.


43 typically reserved for the depiction of men, showing a lesser comfort in the home than the bourgeois woman reposing on a sofa. 66 The image alludes to reverie as well, seemingly using the light to represent the young woman's state of mind. The overall tone of the painting presents the reader as slightly reserved; this may be caused by the fact that, for the viewer, the image of reading, "while casting its spell in absentia, [] withholds the duration of its pleasure". 67 The reader is just absorbed enough in her book that she is passive to the viewer. While the viewer is aware of the activity's enlightening properties, as observable in the room, further information is hazy; it is almost as if the artist is inviting the viewer to join the young model in her escapism. The mental state of the reader being reflected in the surroundings in an image is especially noticeable in Edward Hopper's work. The 1931 painting, Hotel Room (Fig. 16), while not showing an actual domestic space which the pictured individual inhabits and decorates, is the alternative that serves as a temporary version of the domestic space. The "partially opened-up room containing too many things, too little available space and too much hard, glaring light" creates an alienating feeling, from which the woman appears to attempt to remove herself through reading. 68 The simple rendering of the elements show them as austere and uninviting, but the book in which she seeks to escape shares the same qualities. It is actually unclear as to whether she is actually reading or lost in thought as she looks downward with her slumped posture, seemingly defeated. The white space above her suggests a state of mind that separates her from her immediate surroundings. Despite this, she is painted in a similar, impersonal fashion. Interestingly, this seems to make the image relatable to the late nineteenth-century 66 Borzello, 134. 67 Stewart "Painted Readers" 125. 68 John Hollander. "Hopper and the Figure of Room." Art Journal 41.2 (Summer 1981) 158.


44 aesthetic of American paintings, where "For a female figure to function successfully as a pictorial motif, the artist had to render her features indistinctly, so as not to disrupt the painting's formal design. Neither could the artist be too specific in his allusions to her identity, whether in settings or props. Instead the model had to be generalized, and the setting had to be nonspecific enough to conform to the artist's idea of decorative design, color harmonies, and surface pattern". 69 In this sense, the figure becomes relatable to the audience, who can put themselves in her place. The seeming simplicity of the image makes the scene appear common, exemplary of the experience of many more women like the one pictured. The resulting image seems to contradict the intended affect of the room; the bright hues are contradicted by the harsh, almost tangible shadows, which disrupt the flow of the space and make it appear more cluttered. Unfortunately, what now appears to be the positive escapism remarkable in other images of reading is not observable here. The woman's expression appears to contradict the emptiness of the space immediately around her, which would initially appear to be a relief from the clutter of the rest of the room. She seems melancholy, perhaps in a state of ennui. However, this does not seem to be soothing, and the harsh lighting seems to symbolize this. Something that remains present throughout the exploration of repose images and those showing domestic activities is the voyeurism of the paintings. It is especially noticeable in the depiction of "the stasis of reading, the muting and paralysis of the body's enforced plastic passivity," although the more alert pose such as the one seen in Tarbell's Girl Reading marginally undermines this. 70 This distance between the selfenclosed nature of reading and the way in which the viewer experiences this image propagates the stereotypical view of the woman as the visual object. While the mental state and related mood caused by the activity eventually seem to become prominent in 69 Van Hook "Decorative Images of American Women" 56. 70 Stewart "Mind's Sigh" 217.


45 images of the domestic woman, it is important to be cognizant that these deviate from the typical image of the woman reader, which is often more decorative. Some of the elements remain constant regardless of how much the image adheres to the traditional image of the pictured reader, such as the spiritualization of the image over its eroticization. The ladylike aspect with which these subjects conduct these activities is similarly stressed. An example of this is Lilian Westcott Hale's L'Edition de Luxe, 1910 (Fig. 17), who remains harmonious with her space on a physical level in the image. The contemporary audience of this painting apparently saw the home as showing "spiritual and morally uplifting qualities which they also attributed to the women themselves, and which satisfied their need for ideal content and elevated the realistic subjects from everyday domestic life to a higher spiritual plane". 71 The pale, ethereal pastels, elements such as the fashionable Japanese cherry blossom branch, and Tarbell-esque reflection of light on the table reinforce the aesthetic value of the painting as a decorative piece. Although the haziness of the room and space above the woman, perhaps alluding to her reverie, seem to give significance to the activity being performed, the focus of the image lies in perpetuating feminine ideals. For instance, undertaking the feminine role of propagating culture, the woman shown is looking at an image is a book, presumably one showing a piece of art. The table separates the woman from the viewer and therefore could minimize the feeling of voyeurism; likewise, the viewpoint suggests that the audience is simply seated at the opposite end of the table, making this scene appear more documentary of everyday life. Overall, though, the painting has been criticized for upholding the female ideal. This is somewhat odd, since the piece is made by a female artist. At a time when women were becoming more active in their public roles, the art 71 Van Hook "Decorative Images of American Women" 61.


46 typically reflected the male bourgeois ideals of the female that resisted their growing roles. It may have been the case that Westcott Hale felt she was to produce work that adhered to these decorative properties in order for her art to be accepted among that of her male colleagues. The image therefore conforms to the motifs of the bourgeois woman reading, emphasizing the luxurious lifestyle that allows for this activity. Such depictions of the bourgeois woman still allow them an escape in reverie, as do images of her repose. Sewing as a Bourgeois Activity When domestic activities of the bourgeois woman are shown, they are "nonessential tasks: quietly sewing lacework instead of a shirt or reading a novel instead of a newspaper;" in some cases, she is shown playing musical instruments, identifying her with culture. 72 Considering sewing as a pastime may initially seem to blur the line between the work performed by seamstresses and that performed by the bourgeois housewife, equalizing the work of different classes in a sense. Unfortunately, this is not so; the breach between the necessary work of sewing clothes and the decorative embellishment of embroidery becomes especially apparent in paintings portraying women sewing. Sewing was a regular occupation for women, as demonstrated by the large number of Impressionist paintings showing wives, daughters, and sisters performing this activity. It could therefore be "a shared female activity, recreational and quietly enjoyable, yet purposeful and suitably instructive". 73 Since sewing clothes is prompted by necessity, embroidery was considered more of a leisurely activity, and therefore was 72 Van Hook "Decorative Images of American Women" 59. 73 Todd, 41.


47 more often a pursuit of the refined upper-class woman. 74 The creation of the handiwork is emphasized in these paintings, as is the sense of domesticity. While images of sewing are almost as common as those of women reading, the former do not seem to vary in composition as much as the latter. This may be attributed to the world that becomes internal to the reader and thus external to the viewer upon engaging in the pastime of reading. The artist then has to relay information to the viewer in different ways. The act of sewing, however, is more straightforward. Its performance may be considered less self-indulgent than reading, since the resulting product can add to the decoration of the home; thus, the image of a woman sewing can clearly represent the feminine ideal. Pictured in a decorative style, William Merritt Chase's wife in For the Little One, 1896 (Fig. 18), is an example of this act perpetuating the stereotype of the housewife. The space in which the scene takes place reflects the woman's fulfillment of her domestic duties in terms of decorating the room. Although it is assumed that she is the one to have decorated the room, she seems to have been superimposed onto the image; the room's directional brushstrokes are not echoed in the way she is rendered, and she seems rather static as a result. The portrait behind her, hanging in front of the window, is interestingly placed, almost as if it were presenting a foil to the woman's domestic appearance by showing a woman dressed up as she would present herself in society. Hovering above her, it seems to present the ideal she is meant to meet. Presumably, this portrait is of the same sitter Chase presents. More optimistically, it may thus show his wife's well-roundedness, as she can assume both of these roles. The viewer is simultaneously reminded that they are looking at a representation of the sitter, an image that constructs her identity as this feminine ideal. It seems as if Chase may 74 Todd, 41.


48 have realized this, explaining her more realistic rendering than her surroundings. The woman is immediately surrounded by linens that reinforce the notion that she is immersed in her task. Maternal undertones in the title further display her as a woman devoted to her gender-attributed duties. The extravagance of her home suggests that she is not sewing out of necessity, but out of selflessness; the woman is using her free time to be able to give more to her family. Overall, For the Little One idealizes the sitter, displaying her as the ideal domestic woman. Often the act of sewing is depicted in a manner that makes the scene appear simple and leisurely, and although the task being performed is a pastime that the sitters are able to engage in because of their wealth and status, it is somewhat humbling. The setting, of course, can greatly contribute to such appearances. The nearly-empty rooms of Vilhelm Hammershi, which are often intriguing and interesting enough on their own to acquire canvases solely devoted to them, have as much importance in his Interior with a Lady 1901 (Fig. 19), and Woman in an Interior, 1900-1909 (Fig. 20). Comparing these two paintings, which show strikingly similar scenes, reveals the significance of certain aspects in each one. The woman shown in each piece somewhat anchors the paintings, which, as pure, austere rooms, become almost spiritual as the light fills them. Based on the titles, the 1901 painting seems to emphasize the room while the second painting directs the viewer's attention to the woman. Interior with a Lady shows the woman facing away from the window as she sews. Slightly hidden behind a table, she is visually guarded by this piece of furniture. Her proximity to the frame pictures behind her would normally seem to guide the viewer into thinking of the woman as a visual object, but her objectification may be undermined by the furniture that is placed between her and the viewer. In relation to the rest of the room, though, her position and activity are static,


49 while the light creates dramatic and subtle nuances throughout the room. Following the aesthetic of the turn of the century, the poetic mood of the space is emphasized, and the title addressing the presence of the woman appears to be an afterthought. Although it is readily observable that the sitter is sewing, the importance of this task seems minimal, only giving her a reason to be in this location. Echoing the significance of her being turned away from the window, the door on the right side of the room also appears as an object in this piece, becoming seemingly unusable, and thus reflecting the woman's societal position as a person bound to the domestic realm. The existence of Interior with a Lady if the viewer knows of it, allows the audience to make the cognitive leap that the woman in this painting is also sewing. Based on the title, one might assume that the sitter is the most important aspect of Woman in an Interior, and although the image shows a vaguely more cropped version of the room that Interior with a Lady the audience can only see the woman's back. She is facing the window, but she does not look outside. Her position, with her arms folded and her head angled downward, suggest that she is attending to something in her lap. While she could be reading a book, the box on the table beside her more strongly implies that she is sewing. The iconography of the sewing box in the late nineteenth century is akin to the woman's feelings or personality; while an open box reveals a kind of intimacy that could even suggest a sexual openness, the closed box can represent the opposite. In combination with the sitter having her back to the viewer, the image becomes one of reservation and privacy, and the viewer becomes the ultimate voyeur. Yet, denied of much information beyond what the viewer can guess, the window and the light coming in from the outside seem to become the primary elements in the painting, and although the woman does not necessary blend in with the room or its lack of dŽcor, she becomes a


50 visual object as part of the shadows that anchor the composition. Other elements of the painting seem to reflect the strong horizontals and verticals of the window, enforcing the view of the door, the picture frames, and the chair as barriers that block the viewer from something else; in this case, it is something abstract, as if further information is forbidden. A similar view of a woman sewing is seen in New York Interior, circa 1921 (Fig. 21) by Edward Hopper. Here, her task is more easily deciphered due to her outstretched arm. The close view of the sitter, which is presumably being observed from an outside view through a window, seems even more voyeuristic. Since the woman appears to be dressed up, the image of her in an isolated room insinuates that something has gone wrong, something she is trying to fix on the literal level by sewing it. Although she is facing the door of the room, it is closed, and she is visually trapped within its frame. Elements of the home are in the space with her, but are not as prominent as the woman; they are cut off by black vertical bars representing the window frame. The image becomes one of self-confinement that is reinforced by the room, as opposed to the nineteenthand early-twentieth century women who were confined to their homes primarily because of the cult of domesticity. The small size of the room reinforces this, as does the isolation of the woman. Since no objects of the room can be fully seen, it is almost as if the woman must take the role of being objectified. Despite her outstretched arm showing the action of sewing, there is a stillness in the room that also implies a silence. These aspects combine to create a tone of self-reflection as this woman is performing the task. All of these elements seem to ultimately create an intimate space of quiet melancholy on which the viewer is intruding. Images showing other individual activities, like playing an instrument, usually


51 take the format of a portrait with the object, in which the setting is plain or abstract and the figure is standing. The format changes, however, for larger musical instruments that cannot be held. Instruments such as the piano or the spinet, as in Thomas Dewing's painting, circa 1907 (Fig. 22), become a significant part of the room in which they are placed, to the point where an image of the interaction with the objects almost becomes a direct interaction with the room. The Spinet is the perfect example of this. Like some of the sewing images, the viewer sees the seated woman from the back as she faces the instrument and the wall behind it. While playing music is a display of culture, in which women were encouraged to participate, the playing of an instrument as subject for a painting is interesting. Most of the works of art from this time period that show women with instruments display the activity as a private one, though music was often a part of social gatherings. 'Musical evenings' as part of a get-together were not uncommon. 75 Yet, most images showing a woman playing an instrument do so in solitude, without implication of any ulterior motive. Whether it is practicing or simply finding a way to pass the time, artists seem to glorify the appearance of the action more than the implication behind it, beyond the display and promotion of culture. Dewing's painting shows the spinet as part of the dŽcor of the room. The wood harmonizes with the dark floral wallpaper, as does the chair accompanying it; seated at the instrument, the woman starts to blend in with her surroundings as her hair becomes practically indistinguishable from the pattern of the wallpaper. Her dress also seems to match the lighter parts of the wallpaper. The pattern becomes entrancing and all-encompassing; it is only with a closer look that one notices the vase on the instrument and the small picture frame towards which the woman directs her gaze. The woman's shoulders, reflecting light in only a 75 Todd, 29.


52 slightly more muted way than the vase, become almost fetishized in the way there are depicted. They become objects, and yet they are almost the only part of the woman by which to even identify her as a figure. The woman, as she plays this instrument, starts to blend in with the wall, metamorphosing into a part of the wall and the piece of furniture. Perhaps the artist means to emphasize the mood over the visual, which would presumably be the sound over the image. However, it is difficult to see whether or not the woman is playing the instrument, or just seated at it as she loses herself in the reverie incurred by the framed image. Ultimately, though, Dewing obviously sees this action as a domestic one that may bring a person closer to the home. Group Activities of Bourgeois Women In images showing domestic activities, "contemporary women write, sew, or play an instrument in a spacious and elegant interior, without the conversation, companionship, or stimulation, intellectual or otherwise, of men". 76 While the domestic activities previously explored are mainly solitary actions, many of them could be pictured together and often are, creating homosocial spaces. While these are interesting to explore when looking at images of groups, it seems necessary to first address the ritualized social activity of domestic, bourgeois women as presented in images of having tea. Being a female activity, it is actually quite unusual to find paintings of women having tea at home. This seems to have been enforced by the cult of domesticity. Increasingly, the home became the woman's territory; while the home had always been a source of self-expression for the restricted lives of many upper-class women, "after midcentury improved female education, women's increased involvement in furnishing and 76 Bailey Van Hook. "'Milk White Angels of Art': Images in Turn-of-the-Century America." Woman's Art Journal 11.2 (Autumn 1990-Winter 1991) 25.


53 arranging the home and their control of the social rituals of entertaining meant that the domestic interior became her empire". 77 Even in her empire, though, social rituals such as having tea were strict and demanded women to follow a certain decorum. Through this propriety and the display of the embellished home of the host, the woman's role in the domestic realm was reinforced, though this may have increased her confinement to the home. Mary Cassatt's paining, The Tea circa 1880 (Fig. 23), is possibly the most popular image of women having tea in the domestic space during this time period. The space is foregrounded by a table, on which is a tray with a tea set, thus presenting the primary concern of the painting. Other elements in the painting seem to all draw the eye back to the set, as well; the angle of the seated women and the vertical edge of the fireplace and the frame above it do this particularly well. While the women sit on a couch together, they do not look at each other; in fact, in "many nineteenth-century paintings, women rarely speak to one another". 78 The composition may also imply that there are other guests present, although this is unclear due to the lack of additional cups. The woman that is in the center of the composition appears to be the visitor, who has kept her gloves and hat on since the ritual of afternoon tea is meant to be brief. Mary Cassatt herself is said to have avoided trivial small talk during tea, having "deep intellectual discussion more in keeping with the French salon tradition, although the constraint contained in paintings like Tea [] would seem to suggest that the complicated demands of convention were still followed". 79 Although the painting does not go so far as to visually tie the women to their surroundings, the absence of this forced harmony separates them 77 Borzello, 128. 78 Van Hook "Decorative Images of American Women" 55. 79 Todd, 23.


54 from being ingrained in their setting and allows the viewer to concentrate on their individuality and personality, which Cassatt seems to have included in her paintings more than her contemporaries. The image seems to become more universal in this sense, by being inclusive and showing people as realistically depicted beings rather than idealized forms. The scene, while showing proper decorum and perhaps a small amount of hostility over it, seems to simply be a glimpse of the artist's life. Seemingly presenting a comparable subject, Edmund Tarbell's Arrangement in Pink and Gray, Afternoon Tea, c. 1894 (Fig. 24), initially appears to be a conventional image showing a woman, seated and looking out at the viewer as she pauses in drinking her tea. The title of the piece is reminiscent of Whistler's explorations in the aesthetic of his paintings. Upon closer observation, though, the viewer realizes that finding beauty in Arrangement in Pink and Gray for Tarbell, meant completely obliterating a second sitter in the shadows. This is especially jarring since Tarbell has painted this more realistically. As he is not abstracting or playing with conventional notions of art, his choice to include the erasure of a figure in this piece makes the offensive and misogynist aspect of this more obvious. The woman on the left is scarcely noticeable at all; her teacup is perhaps the first indication that there may be more than this woman in a light dress. The hand of the woman on the right even touches the couch on which her presumed visitor is sitting, and yet she remains completely in the light as the other is fully ensconced in shadow. And yet this is not even a situation in which a comparison can be made between the two beyond one about visibility. Tarbell clearly meant to emphasize the woman on the right, but it is difficult to think of a situation in which it would call for the intended ignorance of the presence of a second person other than her dominating her own space; perhaps it is this person's home, meaning that Tarbell may have wanted to exclude elements that


55 are not related to the home and the figure residing in it in order to show the home as an enactment of private identity. Still then, it would be odd for the space to take possession of one figure without touching the other. Other social rituals between women, for example, paying a visit to a friend, had similar customs. As in The Tea William Merritt Chase's Friendly Call 1895 (Fig. 25), shows a woman still in her hat and gloves, holding a parasol as she speaks to her friend. As previously noted, this is actually quite the exception in paintings of this time; their postures make this more observable. The interior has more of a presence in this piece and acts as an elaborate display of acquired art. The visiting woman, dressed all in white, seems almost stark in contrast to the warm tones of her environment, with which her friend blends. The visitor's face is practically obliterated by her veil, mimicking the effects of the light on the silk tapestry on the left side of the painting. She therefore becomes only a figure, but seems to remain visually more important. Placed below and slightly in front of a large mirror, the woman on the right seems to encompass the home, or perhaps it may encompass her. The abundance of decorative elements in the room is relatable to a term coined by art collector Edmond de Goncourt: 'bricabracomania.' The term describes "What he saw was a veritable disease of the period. For Goncourt it linked to the emptiness, the loneliness of the human heart in the new industrial society and its modern cities. Quite simply he believed that the men and women of this fast-paced modern age were plugging their ennui and anxiety with possessions, seeking to reassure themselves with their durability". 80 The size of the figures relative to the space that is full of objects that decorate the space includes the women among them. At the same time, the artist seems to be idealizing the slower pace of life and the comfort of the home. Through the distance shown, Chase is perhaps trying to show his detachment from this female space. There is a noticeable 80 Todd, 44.


56 distance between the women, as well. This could simply be the artist following the trend of contemporary American artists, who, although they studied abroad, came back to the United States to present the same subject their teachers had, though in a different manner. American artists painted the idealized female figure, but "painted delicate not voluptuous types and made the expressions sweet not coy, the gestures modest not inviting, and the poses dainty not assertive". 81 Friendly Call thus shows the subdued and more demure idealized female while glorifying the female rituals as part of the home. Domestic activities, while relieving the upper-class woman of the probable boredom she would feel throughout the day, also promoted female stereotypes such as the woman being a promoter of culture. Contemporary notions that the "home was the world of convention, responsibility, femininity, and decorative craft: in short, a sphere where beauty was tied to everyday interest" are likewise advertised. 82 While reading seems to be more on par with reverie and thus regarded as a more personal pastime, sewing could be seen as something that would aid the beautification of the home by making it a product of culture. The home as a space for outside friends to visit and see showed knowledge of customs and culture, as well as the ability for a woman confined to the home to have a social life. For many of the paintings, though, ideal views of modern life are presented, without the previous need for a narrative or moral message. As snapshots of everyday life, artists still seemed to want to present these moments in the best way possible, exploiting the decorative effects of the domestic interior. The performance of domestic activities remains prominent in depictions of groups of women in the domestic space. Interestingly, even though the painted subjects may be friends or family, they often do not seem to acknowledge one another, but are instead 81 Van Hook "Milk White Angels of Art" 23. 82 Steiner, 150.


57 simply sharing a space. The Mother and Sister of the Artist by Berthe Morisot, 1869-70 (Fig. 26), supposedly shows the mother reading to her daughter. As it is difficult to render reading aloud, the figures seem very disconnected. During this time period, pregnant women were treated almost as invalids were; many were told not to participate in physical or mental activity, which would include reading. The black dress of the mother dominates the canvas as her daughter, the artist's pregnant sister, somewhat fades into the background. Placed under a picture frame, the comparison between her and the objet d'art is invited. She is not active, but instead seems to be in a state of reverie; if she is, in fact, listening to her mother, she may be imagining the story. But her mother is slightly turned away from her, and the darkness of her dress seems to symbolize the discouraged feelings of the younger woman. The mother's dress creates a cramped space, reflecting the artist's sister's entrapment by the home and societal expectations. The younger woman shows signs of ennui, as seen in contemporary images of repose. The flowers and floral couch pattern seem to be reminders of her femininity, and she is surrounded by them. Unlike many male artists that attempt to disguise this melancholy by making the picture decorative, Morisot's decorative elements do not seem to be emphasized to create a more visually pleasing image; her rendering of decorative elements appears to purely be her recording of this modern domestic interior. Thomas Dewing's A Reading 1897 (Fig. 27), also shows two women, one of whom is reading. Ironically, it initially seems as though neither of the women is performing the task the title implies, though upon closer observation, the woman on the right seems to be glancing downward. This painting is a good example of the sort of relationship that may be implied between two women when one of them is indulging in a book. The act of reading encourages an outside narrative, especially since none is made


58 readily available to the viewer. This causes the audience to look for implications of the book's contents in the rest of the image. In illustrating the pastime of reading, having two sitters would initially seem disruptive to the self-enclosed act. Therefore, it is possible that "the tandem or twinned body of readerly duos becomes the phantom double of readerly identification per se, replaying the originary split of empathetic investment that distinguishes the decoder of marks from the agent of response". 83 Ultimately, though, the overarching theme seems to address the aesthetics of the piece. The two women, seemingly either bored or in a state of ennui, are set in an exclusively feminine domain that does not threaten their purity. The wilting flowers could even be seen as a metaphor for these women. As with many of Dewing's paintings, the furniture is sparse and there is a sort of mist that veils the image, allowing the background color to be reflected in almost every part of the piece. Oddly enough, the woman on the left could almost be said to be fading into the background upon comparing her complexion to her fellow sitter's. Despite this, the women share many visual similarities, such as in their clothing, hairstyles, facial features, and posture. Overall, though, the women seem to be in completely separate places, since there is no visible interaction. The strong verticals in the wallpaper support this, visually framing them individually. The mirror and reflective surface of the table could suggest their deeper interaction with the room's elements; they seem to become a part of the room as their reflections do. The large table dwarfs the figures, and the woman on the right almost seems pinned by it against the back wall. The combination of elements seems to create a decorative aesthetic that is undermined by the details of the piece, thus constructing an ideal that becomes less than desirable when closely viewed. 83 Stewart "Painted Readers" 161.


59 The emphasis on the ornamental aspect of the space in a painting is especially remarkable in Edmund Tarbell's work. Since the mid-1800s, artists have shown an interest in the spiritual and scientific qualities of light, allowing it to become an acceptable subject in a work of art by the end of the century. 84 Tarbell's work around this time seems to be particularly enthralled with this subject. Three Girls Reading, 1907, (Fig. 28) seems to be more concerned with the nature of light in a space than the activity that the title states. The air created is one that shows the domestic realm as an ethereal, enlightening place. The woman in the foreground restrains the viewer from thinking of the scene too optimistically. As with Dewing's A Reading it is ambiguous whether or not the title reflects the content of the image. There are two individuals who appear to be conversing in the background, one of whom holds a book, while a third woman sits in the middle-ground behind a table, her head propped on an elbow. Tarbell could almost be presenting the viewer with a contrast, that of the happy domestic life, in the light and not observed too closely, and the darker perspective of the ennuyŽ. Again, a Japanese vase stands in the composition, almost in the middle of the image, a reminder of the social status, wealth, and style of the interior. A small statue resembling the Venus de Milo sits on the windowsill behind the isolated woman. These objects seem to surround the woman at the table; there are also what appear to be a scroll on the floor and a mirror on the table. It would seem odd for a bourgeois male to make the point that materialism does not bring happiness, especially during this time period, but Tarbell does seem to allude to this. Once the realization that the objects visually crowd the isolated woman, it is difficult not to see her without noticing them, and therefore affiliating her discontentment with the lack of fulfillment these items provide. Meanwhile, the women 84 Borzello, 56.


60 in the background sit near each other, possibly having the elusive conversation between women. Everything seems immersed in the glow of the light coming through the windows. There is also a sense of movement around them, brushstrokes which emanate from the curtains to the fabrics and the floors; this becomes disjointed when it is meets the foregrounded woman. The light and movement in this area of the painting appear disconnected and uneven. Disregarding the view of the foremost woman as despondent and reconsidering the impact of the title changes the interpretation of the painting to one that is illustrative of a collective reverie catalyzed by the woman with the book reading to her friends. It is quite possible that this vagueness of meaning is intentional and allows the artist to explore the qualities of light as ornament further in depicting this domestic scene. It would seem that the presence of women as a group is mostly passive. Elements that are observable in contemporary paintings of repose are also noticeable in these, even while often including a domestic activity. The overarching stereotypes of woman as the purveyor of culture and beauty are reinforced in these images. Griselda Pollock says about the domestic realm that "[w]oman was defined by this other, non-social space of sentiment and duty from which money and power were banished". 85 Although it may seem paradoxical to define images of groups of women in domestic spaces in this way, it is actually quite fitting. Of course, the groups of women are able to mingle because they presumably are of the same class, and they must all carry out their duties as domestic beings to decorate the home and tend to guests. While it is probably not all-inclusive, in general, images of groups of women show them cooperating by being passive toward each other; except for ritualized events such as tea, the spaces seem to stay primarily 85 Pollock, 68.


61 non-social in this sense. This may be attributed to the fact that many domestic activities are individualized, and simply performing them in the same interior does not necessarily make these activities communal or social. For instance, Edouard Vuillard's Women in an Interior, c. 1900 (Fig. 29), shows a cluster of women in the left half of the middleground of the piece. The women, who are rendered faceless, are more tightly grouped together than previously discussed paintings, and yet they each bow their heads to pay attention to whatever is directly in front of them. There is no activity besides each one's individual task. While there is are two women seen in profile on either end of the table, there even appears to be a third woman behind the table, who is mostly obliterated by the vase of flowers on its surface. Though largely due to the style of the painting, the two unobscured women do not even appear to be on the same plane, which further shows a lack of connection between them. Vuillard, along with Pierre Bonnard, began to be recognized for his characteristic style of painting in the 1890s; it was deemed 'Intimism.' The style entailed a merging of the separateness of things, the recasting of the everyday as a mystery of light and pattern" while still using Impressionist brushstrokes, but emphasizing the twodimensional influences of Japanese prints and Gauguin's paintings. 86 The emphasis placed on the room, its objects and patterns can then be attributed to this style. The grandeur of the room makes the position of the group of women even more intriguing. The two-dimensionality of the piece presumably makes the group of women appear closer than they would normally seem, thus also making their isolated tasks appear more confusing. As it would seem with many paintings of the time period, the women simply seem to give reason for the room to be painted in the style of Intimism, since even the 86 Steiner, 160.


62 rugs seem to be more carefully rendered than the women. Conclusions Images of women seem to greatly vary in meaning and tone depending on their activity or accompaniment. Paintings of solitary women performing domestic activities often allude to images of reverie, since the activity of reading would seem to encourage this escapism. Aside from indulging in these pastimes to avoid boredom or ennui, the performance of domestic activities often reinforces female stereotypes. Many depictions, attempting to show the everyday life of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, subtly subvert ideals while ultimately promoting them in the larger image. A huge force behind the promotion and portrayal of women participating in domestic activities seems to be the encouragement that women can find ways to foster personal and societal growth, even within the confines of the home. In relation to this, the pictured women are often the purveyors of culture, but "in order to perform these functions, womenand cultureneeded to be protected and isolated, ensconced in a world of ideal truth and beauty". 87 Groups of women only seem to further these notions. The women barely seem to interact, except during social rituals that are based on this activity. Overall, though, passivity is a readily observable quality of the domestic woman, and groups of women sometimes share no more than the room in which they are situated. A great number of the images seem to practically combine images of individual bourgeois women performing domestic tasks onto one canvas. It seems to have been in the interest of artists to simply use the women as decorative accents to the room, or as glimpses of the 87 Pohl, 269.


63 everyday life from which they were forbidden if they were male. These groups of women unfortunately do not seem to yield much more information about their lives outside of the strict customs of teatime and formal visits. It appears as though the artists depicting the upper-class woman performing her mostly solitary activities are simultaneously attempting to prove her respectability as a domestic bourgeois lady and show that she led a tranquil, yet full life. While these images differentiate the bourgeois woman in her seclusion from the modern woman emerging in the public realm, thus preserving her as an honorable, ideal woman, these representations actually accentuate the loneliness and ennui that must result from this lifestyle; the bourgeois woman seems unable to even connect to women in her same situation.


64 CHAPTER 3: SHARING THE DOMESTIC SPACE The bourgeois domestic woman was portrayed in Impressionist paintings as leading a primarily solitary, almost alienated, life. In depicting her in solitude in the home, artists invite the comparison of the power relations in place when adding another figure to the domestic space. Paintings of couples in domestic spaces at this time display more negative emotions than positive ones, which are often reflected in their surroundings. Such images are typically more about the relationship of the two individuals that their interaction with the setting, although the domestic spaces can be a visual aid to better comprehend the situations pictured. There appears to be an unaddressed struggle of power, since the setting is the realm of the woman, but the man seems to have control over the woman. This manifests itself as a vicious cycle of reinforcing feminine norms, but the emotions the women feel seem to become dominant through these themes, rather than ignored. The separation of spheres designated the domestic realm as one in which the inhabitant could feel safe and free to express oneself. Unfortunately, this was more true for the male than the female. It is especially in images displaying figures of both genders that the real positions of power are shown. The dissonance between the expectation and the reality of life within the home begins to become exposed in midto late-nineteenth century paintings. In images of couples and the family, the space allows the true nature of relationships to show itself. As such exposure becomes normal, the domestic space itself adopts the psychological and emotional qualities of the relationships portrayed. As with homosocial spaces in which women perform domestic activities together, the middle-class woman remains isolated in her lack of connection to the individuals around


65 her, revealing an unexpected melancholy that encompasses the life of the privileged domestic woman. The inclusion of a male figure in the domestic space with a woman could not be more different than the simple addition of a female friend: "The juxtaposition of female and male figures would not only have set up lines of either familial, erotic, or economic interaction, but would also have created a narrative scheme and a three-dimensional space in which action could take place. By contrast, women were perceived as being neutral toward each other in a way that did not destroy a painting's decorative intent. In other words, female figures could be seen without the identity or character that would establish a narrative context within the painting". 88 Although the promise of a narrative does not always deliver, the tone of a painting of a domestic space drastically changes when a man accompanies the woman. The inaction that is almost guaranteed in images of groups of women takes on a greater and more tangible significance if the same is observed in an image of a couple. As domesticity "has been the private space of male-female intersubjectivity," the "traditional ground for deep knowledge between the sexes is the home". 89 Perhaps it is then reasonable to assume that an image of a relationship at home could represent its actual and true state. Couples in the Domestic Space As the domestic space, primarily the woman's domain, is entered by a man, power relations seem to shift, though they do not switch. The author of Women and Space : Ground Rules and Social Maps Shirley Ardener, states that individuals belong to "many pairs, groups or sets, each of which may be thought of as occupying its own 'space', or as sharing a particular 'universe'. Members of one group may be 'dominant' relative to members of another group in one 'universe', while in turn being 'muted' in relation to members of a third group, sharing with them a universe differently defined. A woman may be 'muted' relative to her husband and 'dominant' in relation to her children". 90 88 Van Hook "Decorative Images of American Women" 57. 89 Steiner, 150. 90 Shirley Ardener. Women and Space: Ground Rules and Social Maps. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1981. 13.


66 The woman, who is in control of the space, is also supposed to be subordinate to her husband. Since they each occupy different spaces of which they are in charge, one cannot seem to know much about the other's. This is therefore not a straight chain of command, and it seems to take its toll on the relationship, although this is obviously only a minor contributor, if at all. The division of space that reflects social organization collapses when members of both sexes share the domestic realm. Some critics actually consider men depicted in paintings of domestic settings from this time period to be portrayed as more feminine. It is presumed, though, that the men see the home as a place to relax and take a break from the public world, thus making them more passive in domestic images. They do not appear to be more passive than the women, though, but instead somewhat equal. Unfortunately, this supposed equality of power, or equal choice to disregard their power, is undermined by the tension that is created by the dysfunctional relationship. Traditional images of couples in the domestic realm in the mid-1800s are comparable to Woman's Mission: Companion of Manhood, 1863 (Figure 30). The painting by George Elgar Hicks was originally part of a triptych showing the different stages of a woman's life, this one showing her as the dutiful wife. 91 Like many images of that time, the piece is propagandistic, advocating the consecutive roles of a female in the mid-nineteenth century. The man holds a black-bordered letter that told the news of someone's death, presumably someone close to both the man and wife pictured. In his grief, the man leans on the fireplace mantle as his wife comforts him despite her own presumed sadness. She is the ideal wife, prioritizing her husband's well-being. Interestingly, the man's emotional state is highlighted. While this shows his vulnerability 91 Frances Fowle. "Woman's Mission: Companion of Manhood." Tate Gallery Tate Gallery, Dec 2000.


67 and comfortability in his home, he is taking on a feminine role but remaining dominant. It ultimately appears as though "neither the artist nor the husband has faith in the wife's consoling power. This is made abundantly clear by the husband's failure to acknowledge his wife's ministrations: he neither looks at her nor accepts her physical support. Indeed, the comfort she offers is attitudinizing rather than effective. She still clings to him, thus affirming the old axiom, popular in 19thcentury literature, that while he is the oak, she remains the vine". 92 However, she is performing as expected of her in such a situation. Beside the immediate condolence she gives her husband, the appearance of her home suggests her ability to "make home a haven of soft textures, warmth and comfort". 93 The table is set for breakfast and the home is embellished with subtle symbols of the couple's wealth and status. The woman herself is beautiful and young, yet demure and conservative in her appearance. While it is clear that she runs a comfortable and efficient household, she also seems extremely dependent on her husband. This is observable in the way she clings to him as she comforts him, and he seems to ultimately support her weight. Regardless, the home is portrayed as a shelter, a safe and comfortable place for the man to disappear from the world, where his wife can tend to him. By the turn-of-the-century, the depictions of ideals are not as blatant, but are more subdued in hinting toward the feminine ideal while presenting a realistic moment. Narrative also decreases in importance as portrayals of everyday life are favored. Such aesthetic changes led to trends such as "something called the problem picture, described as 'ambiguous, and often slightly risquŽ, paintings of modern life which invited multiple, easily plausible interpretations'" in England in the 1890s. 94 It can be assumed that paintings showing complicated relationships such as Tarbell's The Breakfast Room, circa 1903 (Fig. 31), and the later Breakfast by William MacGregor Paxton, 1911 (Fig. 32), 92 Elaine Shefer. "Woman's Mission." Women's Art Journal 7.1 (Spring-Summer 1986) 8. 93 Borzello, 110. 94 Borzello, 118.


68 were thus acceptable and perhaps even in vogue when they were painted. The latter appears to be based on Tarbell's painting, since the similarities are numerous. The relationship of the couple is the main focus of each painting. The couple does not even seem to communicate as they sit down to breakfast, as their attentions are directed elsewhere. Thus, the primary subject seems to be the emotional distance and resulting tension in their relationship. Both artists, in epitomizing the relationships of each couple in a single painting, reinforce the notion that "the traditional ground for deep knowledge between the sexes is the home". 95 Furthermore, Freud's later analysis of the table in his Interpretation of Dreams (originally published in 1899) states it is interchangeable with the bed in constituting marriage "and as far as praticable the sexual representationcomplex is transposed to the eating-complex," meaning that these breakfast scenes may be indicative of the couples' performance in other aspects of their relationships. 96 Since there were stricter rules of social and sexual propriety that had to be followed in Great Britain and America than in French society, this may have been the easiest way for Tarbell and Paxton to address deeper marital issues without being overtly sexual. 97 A maid is also present in each of the paintings, though she only appears in the background; "In hiring domestics middle-class women found the means to make domesticity more flexible, accommodating roles of authority and activity, rather than passivity and isolation". 98 Yet, contrary to this statement, the middle-class women in both the Tarbell and the Paxton are portrayed as at least psychologically isolated and passive in their relationships. The power and freedom that the women should gain from having domestic help is not exemplified in these images, since this power may be 95 Steiner, 150. 96 Sigmund Freud. The Interpretation of Dreams New York: Chelsea House Publishers, 1987. 242. 97 Michele Plott. "The Rules of the Game: Respectability, Sexuality, and the Femme Mondaine in LateNineteenth Century Paris." French Historical Studies 25.3 (Summer 2002) 534. 98 Weinberg, 249.


69 undermined by a more significant relationship in which she is less powerful: that with her husband. Tarbell's The Breakfast Room appears natural as a scene. As they are seated together for breakfast, the woman is reading the newspaper as her husband peels an orange. The man is squeezed in the corner, perhaps showing his lack of authority in the domestic realm. The room is a display of art and objects, and therefore a demonstration of the prestige of the couple; the presence of the maid only adds to this. However, there is a reclining nude in the background on the right of the painting. This is probably an implication that this scene is actually from Tarbell's studio, since such paintings would most likely not have been prominently displayed in this fashion. The wife in the painting, who looks somewhat disheveled in comparison to the maid, is visually positioned between the reclining nude and the maid, possibly implying that she is meant to have the qualities of each that a lady was expected to have. In reference to the nude, this could mean acting as a muse or simply an aesthetically pleasing object. Such a seemingly deliberate display of the misplaced work of art by Tarbell may also mean that he may have been alluding to something more, like intimacy in a marriage, or lack thereof. Meanwhile, the maid is the representation of the domestic being who lives a life of servitude, something that was definitely implied in the subject of A Woman's Mission 's servitude to her husband, which may have been a continuing norm. Overall, though, it almost seems as if the husband would not notice even if she were to fulfill all of these roles. The couple seems to deliberately ignore each other, to the point where the tension in the room is almost palpable. This tackling of modern issues in the painting seems to have been positively accepted; a Boston journalist called it "one of the best modern


70 interiors ever painted". 99 Paxton's interpretation of the image, though it has the same general tone, displays this discomfort and emotional distance much more explicitly. The woman, who would normally be facing away from the viewer, has instead turned away from her husband, who is reading the newspaper and therefore does not seem to notice. By holding the arm of the chair with her left hand, she almost appears to be shielding herself from him. Her expression suggests a thoughtful melancholy and almost a sort of hopelessness. This interpretation seems to blame the husband for this emotional distance, while Tarbell seems to portray his subjects as both at fault. Paxton's painting instead shows more of a dependence on the man; the woman is clearly attempting to ignore him after he has already decided to read the paper. This portrayal of the carefully decorated house implies that the woman and her efforts go unnoticed. The home here also acts as an arena for gendered norms. Both of these paintings show that "the domestic, perpetually invoked in order to be denied, remains throughout the course of modernism a crucial site for anxiety and subversion". 100 Walter Sickert's Ennui, circa 1914 (Fig. 33), seems to fit with this genre of 'problem paintings.' The constrained domestic life of the woman is symbolized by the cramped background space in which she stands. This ennui, while seen in images of the solitary domestic woman, is ultimately endemic to the domestic life as dictated by societal expectations in the nineteenth century. In this image, the man is extremely prominent, completely oblivious to what his wife is experiencing. She is in such a state of ennui that she is literally staring at the wall. Her husband is looking in the opposite direction, also staring off into space; however, the woman's facing the wall reinforces her 99 Todd, 75. 100 Reed, 16.


71 entrapment. The space she occupies is made claustrophobic by her husband, and even the decoration of the room highlight her lack of mobility. Next to her is a large bell jar encapsulating a few birds. This unsuccessful image of a marriage reflects Laura Mulvey's opinion on cinematic melodrama: "The family is the socially accepted road to respective normality, an icon of conformity, and at one and the same time, the source of deviance, psychosis and despair. In addition to these elements of dramatic material, the family provides a physical setting, the home, that can hold a drama in claustrophobic intensity and represent, with its highly connotative architectural organization, the passions and antagonisms that lie behind it". 101 The domestic space does seem to amplify the problems that are occurring within it. The space is cramped, again showing the tension between the couple. The quality of this painting as a record of a moment reinforces the static nature of the relationship. Ennui is ultimately an example of a negative outcome of the cult of domesticity. As Frances Borzello, author of At Home states, "At its best, the home gave women their own sphere of influence; at its worst, it ensured they were prisoners, subject to social expectations and the men of the family". 102 One could easily also make the argument that the woman's husband is either nonchalant about the situation, or taking pleasure in it, as he reclines in his chair and puffs on his cigar. Ennui is actually a temporally advanced example of how the dysfunction of the subjects in a painting can reveal itself in the domestic interior. This becomes apparent much earlier in painting history. The epitome of the dysfunctional relationship that is reflected in the room is seen in Edgar Degas's Interior (Le Viol) which predates many of these, painted in 1868-69 (Fig. 34). Unusual for its time, this piece resists a narrative. The melodrama of the painting has caused much debate and conflicting views of the piece; much of this is actually attributed to the fact that people tend to try to assign it a 101 Sidlauskas, 36. 102 Borzello, 105.


72 narrative. A popular claim has been that the painting is literary and that Degas based the piece on the wedding night scene of the book ThŽrse Raquin by Emile Zola. Susan Sidlauskas, in her essay on the piece titled "Resisting Narrative: Degas's Interior makes the argument that this lack of connection to narration is why the painting is so powerful. There is a multiplicity of elements in the piece that contrast femininity and masculinity, as well as public and private spaces. Initially observing the characters in the painting, the male seems to assert dominance simply in his pose. This creates an asymmetry in the piece, creating a stronger contrast between the two figures. His gaze is intense, directed at the woman. The woman, as in many of the previously discussed paintings, props her head on her elbow, turned away from the door. She is disrobed; her bonnet and cloak are on the bed, while her corset lies in the center of the room. Her open sewing box seems to reflect this exposed intimacy. In the back left corner of the painting is the man's top hat, placed under a map, possibly signifying his ability to wander and explore the world. Because of this, the space is fairly ambiguous; the map, a masculine emblem, is hung up on the wall. There is only a single bed, suggesting that the room belongs to one of the pictured persons. The floral wallpaper and sewing box could suggest that the room is the woman's. Then again, the simple nature of the room is strange, seemingly ambiguous in every way, thus reflecting this situation between the couple. It is unsure whether it is a feminine or masculine space, or to whom it belongs. It also does not seem to fit the description of typical homes for any social class. By extension, it is ambiguous whether the space is private or public, for example, a personal room or a hotel room. All of these inconsistencies and questions force the viewer to think about overarching themes while probably eventually abandoning the need to label the room as feminine or masculine, public or private. The tone and the mood that are promoted by the setting and the


73 situation in the instant that it is captured need to be emphasized. The simple act of a viewer observing such a tense, complicated image turns them into a voyeur, which is seemingly worsened by the intimate nature of this image being situated in a place that would seem to only include these two figures. This brings to attention the male character's voyeurism of the female in the piece. Although Degas seems to avoid answers such as the gender to which the room belongs, he still upholds traditional male and female stereotypes. The woman seems to be defined by her body and sexuality, which the man, fully dressed and unexposed, observes with a sort of entitlement. The light illuminates the sewing box and the back of the woman and casts dramatic shadows behind the man, making him appear more powerful, possibly even villainous. The angle of the room emphasizes this as he is in the foreground and therefore appears larger. As with images of couples, the issue of communication and general connection becomes a major theme, as does the sense of alienation. These are feelings and questions to which the viewer can relate and seem to be what the artist wants to emphasize the most. Interior stylistically contains many elements that would eventually become signs of modernity and are thus readily observable in a Hopper painting also showing a troubled couple. In Interior Degas uses "a more reductive form, fundamentals of the vocabulary of abstraction: the identification of figure and ground, the emphasis on 'negative' space, the expressive distortions of space, scale and perspective, and the schematic treatment of physiognomy. Even the absorptive, non-specific engagement that would be demanded by abstraction finds a precedent here, for [ Interior does] not narrate stories of psychological discomfort [or] alienation between the sexes [... Interior acts out its] effects through figural and spatial arrangements that were calculated to provoke a bodily empathy on the part of the sentient viewer". 103 This description could almost be directly applied to any Hopper painting. Room in New York, 1932 (Fig. 35), includes all of these elements. Seen from the exterior through an 103 Reed, 68.


74 open window, as in New York Interior the scene is framed by the windowsill, almost as if it were presenting the single image that would represent this couple's relationship. The shallow space of the room seems to reinforce this, creating a sort of stage for them. However, the viewer is removed from the scene through the physical barrier of the exterior wall of the building, emphasizing the silence and stillness of the scene in contrast to the outside noises one would assume to hear upon noticing the title. As Nochlin remarks in her article, "Edward Hopper and the Imagery of Alienation," Room in New York "suggests Camus's image of the Absurd: a talking figure seen through a glass door of a telephone booth, so that the movements of his mouth and his gestures appear meaningless". 104 The man here is reading the newspaper as the woman seems to wait for him to notice her, tapping on a piano key as she does. The image of the woman in a cluttered space as she waits for her partner to acknowledge her is an interesting motif seen in paintings such as Ennui ; "a wide landscape is behind the man, who is reading of the world of light outside the room; the woman, pushed up by the painting's format against the dark upright, is commented on by the unreadable dark, vertical print" 105 The confinement of the woman in the room may then not only refer to her social position, which is not as strictly tied to the home in Hopper's time, but also to her position in a relationship. It seems that the males have the power in these situations, and the women are simply waiting for them to act. Yet, the painful emotion of tense waiting is ever-present in these images. The discomfort and lack of connection ironically becomes something with which the viewer can relate, allowing the emotion of the piece to go beyond the static moment being pictured. Edward Hopper's Summer in the City, 1949 (Fig. 36), approaches the lack of true 104 Nochlin, 139. 105 Hollander, 158.


75 intimacy more blatantly than previous examples. The barren room is only decorated by the patterns of light and shadow, presenting a coldness that reflects that of the relationship of the couple. This image makes it especially evident that the proximity of a man to a woman seems to present an "even greater isolation, a more unbridgeable gap or lack of communication". 106 Instead of anchoring the female subject through human connection, the supine man does the exact opposite. In a sense, he is may be becoming a part of the room; it is difficult to tell how the sentiment of the image would change if he were extracted from it. It is interesting that he plays a more passive role that is limited to his physicality, roles that would harmfully and stereotypically be assigned to the female figure. Instead, the woman is the one that is pensive and seems to reach a moment of clarity of thought, although the conclusion she seems to have reached is grim. The woman, highlighted by the patterns of light in the room, also seems constricted by them; she quite literally appears enlightened in a way that is imprisoning. This is reinforced by the soft gray shadow on the wall behind the woman that seems to form the silhouette of a house. It is almost as though, while the scene may actually be set in an inner-city apartment, Hopper is accentuating the encapsulating effect of the house for women in the past. Hopper's rooms are typically "the true heroes of his images, for they explain his subjects both emotionally as well as realistically. The almost featureless settings suggest the mental isolation of his figures. The single pieces of furniture and the static views from the windows suggest their empty lives. And the blocks of sunlight on the walls and floors suggest the heaviness of time that refuses to pass". 107 The static nature of time that seems to be portrayed in Hopper's paintings only make the lonely subjects' contemplative realizations appear all the more depressing and hopeless. Edward Hopper's paintings most likely included some of his feelings about his 106 Linda Nochlin. "Edward Hopper and the Imagery of Alienation." Art Journal 41 (Summer 1981) 139. 107 Borzello, 180.


76 own marriage; this assumption is only reinforced considering that his wife Jo was often his model for the female figures in his pieces. His relationship with Jo was notoriously tumultuous, with some of their arguments turning into physical fights. It is possible, though, that these images were not specific to his marriage; in the 1920s and 1930s, the companionship marriage became more ideal, in which both the men and the women's sexual satisfaction was considered important. 108 The union was therefore meant to be more of an equal comradeship. While Victorian ideals dictated that a woman should strive to be the perfect wife and mother, the roles of lover and friend were more in compliance with this new view of marriage. 109 Although this would seem to alleviate the woman of the strict, impersonal role of the 'angel in the house,' the duality of this role and the seeming inability of fulfilling it often led to tension in marriages. The same sentiment of hopeless melancholy is expressed in Hopper's Summer Interior, 1909 (Fig. 37), though this is accomplished without the need for a secondary figure. Unlike Room in New York and Summer in the City, though, Summer Interior was painted before Hopper was married to Jo, revealing a condition that was perhaps more noticeable than his contemporaries would care to show. The emphasis is placed on the woman and her crushed emotions, and yet, being depicted in this fashion erases her identity and individuality. Perhaps refusing to display the identifying features of this woman protects her from being completely exposed, but her being nude somewhat undermines the protection that this gives her in that it objectifies her instead. At the same time, though, she becomes more relatable; her position is generalized, and this Hopper is able to harmonize her with the space. The bed becomes representative of her intimacy 108 Vivien Green Fryd. "Edward Hopper's 'Girlie Show': Who is the Silent Partner?" American Art 14.2 (Summer 2000) 64-66. 109 Fryd, 64-66.


77 with another, but as it is disheveled and bare, it is assumed this is an unhappy relationship. The space can therefore be read as a metaphor for a relationship, almost like the breakfast scenes of Paxton and Tarbell, except more explicitly. The figure appears to be practically sealed in the room, forced to face this unhappiness. Paintings of couples in domestic spaces at this time display more negative emotions than positive ones, which are often reflected in their surroundings. Such images are typically more about the relationship of the two individuals that their interaction with the setting, although the domestic spaces can be a visual aid to better comprehend the situations pictured. There appears to be an unaddressed struggle of power, since the setting is the realm of the woman, but the man seems to have control over the woman. This appears to be a vicious cycle of reinforcing feminine norms, but the emotions the women feel seem to become dominant through these themes, rather than ignored. Therefore, deep knowledge between the sexes is exhibited in the home; in a related manner, domesticity "has been the private space of male-female intersubjectivity, and the family the circle in which the barriers between the self and Other were most frangible". 110 Not only does the home then serve as a representation of the inhabitant, but it can also display and possibly define the relationships that occur within it. In being shown with multiple others in such a personal space, it becomes rather ambiguous as to whether the Other is the unknown outside of the home, or the persons with which they share it, simply being the ones outside of one's self. The home, it has been said, is meant to be a place of safety and freedom of expression, although the latter could probably never be fully realized by the domestic-bound woman. While images of dysfunction are 110 Steiner, 150.


78 apparent in the depictions of bourgeois couples, it increasingly seems that the typical unposed portrayals of familial relationships are similarly unbalanced, appearing odd and uncomfortable in the space. The domestic space thus reveals the state of the relationships occurring within it in a way that becomes relatable to the viewer; although background information is helpful in understanding the reasons behind certain portrayals of families, the psychological nature of the space allows the audience to empathize with the subjects as they are also drawn into it. Tensions in the Depiction of Familial Relationships in the Domestic Space Popular for its almost tangible tension and dysfunction underlying an image of poise and class that is Edgar Degas's The Bellelli Family, 1858-67 (Fig. 38). Even as a posed portrait, the formal qualities of the painting and the fashion in which each individual is portrayed contribute to an overall instability and dissension. Degas was actually quite close to the Bellellis, visiting them often during their exile in Florence that was a result of Gennaro Bellelli's role in the local 1848 Revolution of the Bellellis' hometown of Naples. 111 It is said that he was quite close to his aunt, Laura, and made her and her daughters the subjects of many sketches and paintings. Probably a contributing factor to the eventual The Bellelli Family Degas seemed to have more of an interest in contrasting the personalities of "the fair, blue-eyed Giovanna and the brown-haired, black-eyed Giuliana" than in their relationship. 112 While Giovanna's black dress merges with that of her mother, suggesting a likeness to her mother, Giuliana is placed at the center of the portrait, both connecting the individuals and emphasizing the distance 111 Linda Nochlin. "A House is Not a Home: Degas and the Subversion of the Family." Dealing with Degas: Representations of Women and the Politics of Vision Eds. Richard Kendall and Griselda Pollock. New York: Universe, 1992. 46. 112 Jean S. Boggs. "Edgar Degas and the Bellellis." Art Bulletin 37 (1955) 127, 129.


79 between them. However, her pose seems to be a reminder that the figures in the family portrait are all in positions "which they might have assumed individually but never as a group," reinforcing the lack of connection between the family members. 113 Her pose suggests an uncertainty while still being unconventionally playful and informal, somewhat undermining the constrained expressions of her family members. While her face mirrors that of her mother's, she is the only one who seems to acknowledge her father, though he seems to miss her gaze as he glances toward her. The father appears to be isolated from the group; this is formally highlighted by the vertical line that is formed by the alignment of the table leg, fireplace, and mirror designating the right third of the painting as solely his. This vertical border interrupts the linear movement that is created in the triangulated position of Laura and her daughters. Likewise, the soft light in the painting excludes Gennaro. Unexpectedly, it is the husband that sinks into the background in this image; he becomes almost indistinguishable from the fireplace in the background, while Laura is strongly silhouetted against the blue wall. The emotional distance between this couple cannot be overlooked in their centrifugal positioning in the painting. Degas, who had great respect for his aunt, lets this be shown in his depiction of her. She is shown as the dominating force in the painting both physically and spiritually; her "magnificently austere head, held so proudly high, with its haughtily arched brows, seems so sure compared with her husband's hesitancy, Giuliana's uncertainty, and Giovanna's timidity, that it attracts us with a kind of moral power". 114 Laura also seems to be the most virtuous in mourning; the framed image next to her is a representation of her father, who fell ill and died in the summer of 1858. 115 113 Boggs, 132. 114 Boggs, 133. 115 Boggs, 130.


80 The family had also suffered another death during the near-decade that Degas was painting this portrait; Giovanni, who died as an infant, was mourned from 1860 to 1862. Despite this, Degas's aunt appears to be pregnant in the painting. Linda Nochlin has inferred that "Laura Bellelli's gently expanding form may be viewed not merely as a representation of woman's predestined role as procreator, but as the subtle record of an outrage, an act committed on her body without the love or respect of the perpetratoran act that has come to be defined as marital rape". 116 The Bellelli's was a loveless marriage; Laura married Gennaro Bellelli at the 'advanced' age of twenty-eight after her father found her previous suitors insufficiently rich or distinguished enough for his daughter. 117 It is interesting that Degas chose to represent her pregnancy, almost as if he were highlighting the harm that Gennaro may have inflicted on his wife, and thus also presenting a more visible reason for the distance between the two. During this period and "in Degas' time, for the upper bourgeoisie in general, the older notion of the extended family and its interests, and of marriage as a strategic cementing of economic, social and political alliances coexisted with very different, more 'progressive' notions of romantic love, freely chosen spouses, the primacy of the individual couple and their mutual interests, and so forth". 118 Perhaps the artist then chose to emphasize the underlying hostility and psychological distance between the family members as a way of criticizing what was in the process of becoming the older notion of the bourgeois family. In the nineteenth century, "the importance of the home and all the issues surrounding it to do with family life resulted in paintings of the interior that presents us with snapshots of conventional belief". 119 Degas presents a portrait that is superficially representative of the quintessential high bourgeois family in the mid-nineteenth century. While presenting a portrait that is a record or family document, he is however 116 Nochlin "A House is not a Home" 45. 117 Nochlin "A House is not a Home", 45. 118 Nochlin "A Home is not a Home", 52. 119 Borzello, 104.


81 simultaneously showing a criticism of the bourgeois family. It is possible that Degas was aware of the strains within the family but still wanted the portrait of the family to be a "major painting with a dignified structure and a sense of traditional universality as well". 120 Degas shows tensions that are relatable and most likely common in families of this time, but, at the same time, "the painting must be seen as inscribing those unifying codes of structural relationshiphierarchised according to age and sex, homogenised in terms of class and appearancegoverning the ideal of nineteenth-century bourgeois family existence". 121 Ultimately, though, the artist is exposing the fallacy of the dignified bourgeois family. Painted in a drawing room, the audience is initially unaware that this setting is actually not the family's home, though the space is immediately read as a bourgeois living space through its decorative elements and objects. The lack of harmony in the figures seizes their portrayal as symbols of specific roles within a bourgeois family and emphasizes their individuality. Yet, their forced inhabitation of the same space unveils the tensions that may have normally been dormant; the need to keep up an appearance discloses the actual artificiality and pretense of the situation. Overall, Degas creates an image that reveals the reality beneath the appearance of decorum and happiness that was the expected livery of bourgeois respectability. While Degas seems to have deliberately presented his subjects in a fashion that subtly reveals their dysfunction, emotional distance, and tension, it is crucial to note that these same negative feelings are observable in more informal paintings in which the viewer is led to believe that the scene being observed is exemplary of everyday life. These seemingly not posed paintings still can divulge the emotional intricacies between the persons shown in the manner in which they are portrayed; these become especially 120 Nochlin "A House is not a Home", 44. 121 Nochlin "A House is not a Home", 44.


82 clear once the setting becomes more actively involved in the depiction of the subjects. James McNeill Whistler's Harmony in Green and Rose: The Music Room (1860-61, Fig. 39) is an interesting compilation of female figures and patterns within a small space. While their relationships with each other cannot be discerned quite as well as those in The Bellelli Family, there is a comparable sense of disconnection, resulting in a tension that presents itself in the setting's relation to the figures. Whistler openly defied the notion that art should be about truth and nature, choosing to replace the key adjectives with beauty and art itself. 122 His paintings are mostly an exploration of formal elements in an attempt to reach a sort of aesthetic perfection. Thus, the artist does not include story-telling or moral instruction in his work. Many art historians view his focus on the decorative as part of the development of a "new critical art language and a new style;" Detailed realism and smooth surfaces were abandoned by many artists for hazy landscapes and paint-laden brushstrokes, the clearly drawn narratives of the former now nudged aside by the moods and vague sentiments of the latter. The decorative was celebrated in painting and the subject-matter best suited for such a decorative emphasis was women, whether naked or clothed, whether residing in comfortable interiors or misty landscapes". 123 Since he typically includes female subjects, Whistler's women seem to be an integral, and obviously decorative, part of this formal perfection. Harmony in Green and Rose vacillates between fitting this description of the Aesthetic style and breaking away from it. The haziness that seems to be associated with feminine space is only noticeable in certain sections of the painting, therefore making them appear meaningful beyond simply being aesthetically pleasing. The initial view of the piece presents the space as cramped and congested. Upon closer observation, it becomes clear that the figure on the left is a reflection, presented similar to a bust statue. A female child is at the center of the 122 Pohl, 242. 123 Pohl, 270.


83 image, reading a book quietly in the background. She seems to anchor the painting and seems to fit the mold of the stereotypical bourgeois domestic woman better than the other two figures in her quiet, almost pristine solitude. As in most paintings showing women in the same space, these women remain isolated in their activities. Both the woman standing on the right and the shaded part of the curtain serve as vertical barriers that disrupt the composition, separating the figures from each other. Even though she may actually be conversing with the woman whose presence is limited to her reflection, she appears borderline despondent as she looks out of the picture frame. These visual elements constantly remind the viewer that these individuals are constrained to this domestic setting together, regardless of their obvious differences. Yet, all of them appear to be caught in their own reveries. While there may be a general sentiment of beauty as Whistler attempts to achieve in his work, there is no genuine exchange of emotion. Regardless of whether this is intentional, it reinforces the individual loneliness that these women face. The way in which Whistler chooses to include each of these subjects further calls attention to the meaning of the home in the construction of a woman's identity, and vice versa. Some critics claim that the profile portrait of the woman over the mantelpiece was added as an afterthought to balance the image, especially since the standing figure of the woman on the right seems to almost dominate the image in its near-two-dimensionality. In a sense, this portrait of Whistler's stepsister, Deborah Haden, lays in opposition to the image of their family friend in various ways. The portrayal of Isabella Boott in her riding outfit is quite an unusual image to find in a domestic space; her dress separates her from the setting to the point that she seems to have been superimposed on the image. Whistler is said to have referred to this piece as "le tableau avec l'amazone," which suggests that


84 this woman's experience was more independent and unlike that of the figures with whom she shares the painting. 124 The painting was apparently originally titled The Morning Call which explains the lack of attempt to integrate the figure of Miss Boott into the setting. 125 Such a title certainly does emphasize the lack of face-to-face confrontation and acknowledgement of those sharing one's space; each individual seems to be in her private world, in "solitude despite propinquity". 126 This may be emphasized in the different roles of the persons depicted. The resulting image seems to simply be a conglomeration of unrelated images, even though the artist seems to fracture the image in order to draw attention to the individual experience of each sitter. The inclusion of Lady Seymour Haden only in this mantelpiece mirror literally integrates her with the home; in being part of an object within it, she becomes a part of it. Since the setting of Harmony in Green and Rose is the Haden home, Whistler may have done this intentionally. Mirrors in such situations become "metaphors for an intensified concern with 'sincerity,' the nature of visual appearances, and the perceived erosion of boundaries between people and things". 127 These seem to agree with the artist's intent to focus on the visual by harmonizing the figures with the room so much that they become a part of it. In Aesthetic Movement circles, the use of ornately framed mirrors was encouraged, as to prevent discordance with the larger conception of the interior, since works of art would have have such frames. 128 It was therefore fully intentional for the reflection of the domestic woman to integrate with the ornamental beauty of the home; A woman could be considered intrinsically ornamental by her 124 Andrew McLaren Young. The Paintings of James McNeill Whistler New Haven: Yale University Press, 1980. 13. 125 Young,13. 126 Tom Prideaux. The World of Whistler, 1834-1903 New York: Time-Life Books, 1970. 40. 127 Juliet Kinchin. "Performance and the Reflected Self: Modern Stagings of Domestic Space, 1860-1914." Studies in the Decorative Arts 16:1 (Fall-Winter 2008-2009) 66. 128 Kinchin, 71.


85 association with ideas of beauty, but she required to be handsomely bound or framed by her setting to become truly beautiful" 129 Not only does the canvas itself frame all of the women in this painting, but the reflection of the woman on the left, though not shown in an ornate mirror, is nonetheless framed by the mantelpiece and the curtains that are the repeating elements tying the room together. Perhaps the exclusion of a frame for the mirror was simply a formal choice so that the viewer would understand the presence of a third figure and not interpret her reflection as a portrait. In addition to this, the mirror is reminiscent of the surveillance aspect of the cult of domesticity, which supports a need for a regulation of behavior. In this sense, Whistler's Harmony in Green and Rose presents a situation in which the female sitters are aware of being visible and observed, especially as they are part of a work of art. It seems as though this conflation of female and home becomes necessary in the exploration of modernism in art around this time. Increasingly, paintings including Harmony in Green and Rose thus display the themes of "identity formation, psychological interiority, authenticity, and voyeurism [that] have been central to discussions of the modern homewhether or not they have been labeled as such," which started to become explicitly noticeable by the late nineteenth century. 130 The inclusion of such themes in the domestic space without directly addressing them allows these settings to become charged. Degas's HŽlne Rouart in Her Father's Study, circa 1886 (Fig. 40), successfully visually describes HŽlne's relationship with her father merely in the relationship she has with a space that has been designated as his. Although this is a portrait, the objects in the space dominate it. HŽlne is trapped by the desk chair, which dwarfs her drastically more than normal perspective would. The wallpaper emphasizes this encapsulation; its horizontal borders 129 Kinchin, 71. 130 Kinchin, 64.


86 and the vertical lines created by the picture frames seem to attempt to constrict her, although she seems to have slightly overcome this. The desk seems to extend indefinitely into the background, and the Egyptian figurine on it is enlarged so much that it initially appears to be a life-size statue what appears to be a background doorway but is actually a glass case. With the simple formal changes of size and position of these objects, Degas is able to reveal psychological and emotional truths about HŽlne and, probably, her father. The size of the figurine invites a comparison between it and the subject; she, too, is immobile, encased, and on display. She appears almost lifeless as she stoically stands for her portrait. By having her hands draped over the chair, Degas seems to emphasize the lack of a ring, perhaps highlighting the fact that her father would be the prominent male figure in her life, allowing for this constricting situation to occur. These latter observations are the most revealing in the figure of HŽlne; it is important to note that most of the information, mostly in mood, is shown through the setting in the painting. Edgar Degas was definitely a prominent innovator in exploring the meaning that a physical space can have on its inhabitants. With The Bellelli Family most of the tensions are revealed in the contrasting poses and awkwardness sensed between the sitters in contrast to the stereotypical bourgeois drawing room, though the viewer's understanding of the piece is greatly clarified by external background on the family. While not as much information is given about the relationships in the portrait of HŽlne Rouart, the information becomes more intrinsic in the piece by utilizing the space as a metaphor for the cause and effect of the mood of the subject. In this way, the space itself becomes comparable to another person in presenting information. These paintings, along with Degas's Interior show what would eventually be recognized as signs of modernity while showing a growing interest in using this familiar domestic subject as a metaphorical


87 blank canvas to explore an increasing abstraction in art. These glimpses of contemporary domestic life, as well as its dysfunctionality and resulting tensions when it is shared with other figures, offer a more introspective look into the emotional and psychological realities of the domestic woman's situation. Such truths become exposed in the formal qualities of the space and the figures within it, sometimes inviting an empathy in the viewer. This visceral response is meant to evoke a sort of imagined experience of the subject's psychological state; in The Bellelli Family for instance, the figures are nearly life-size, allowing the viewer to enter the uncomfortable, tense space. It thus does not seem to be too unreasonable to suggest that this kind of exploration in abstracting space becomes part of the advent of modernism; this also seems to expose psychological and emotional truths about the subject that may not have been as noticeable otherwise. The unfavorable side effect of this is that the woman becomes even more objectified and/or becomes inseparable from the domestic space. Conclusions Relationships within the domestic realm explicitly reveal the tensions and unhappiness in the domestic realm. As they near the turn of the century, paintings seem to become more psychological as they expose the true nature of domestic life. These are initially dependent on the presence of other figures, but seem to later incorporate these feelings of dysfunction in the general atmosphere of the painting. Often, these become more noticeable as the artist takes more risks that depict the space in a slightly more flattened or symbolic way, as with Edward Hopper. The latter, although most of his works are produced after the cult of domesticity, still shows these same themes in the


88 1920s and 1930s, showing that the issues addressed in depictions of domestic spaces in at the end of the nineteenth century are more universal and telling of the human experience. Overall, the domestic space, as a safe place to express oneself, becomes an important part of the figures with inhabit it and adopts their psychology in a way that is sometimes more revealing than the figures themselves.


89 CONCLUSION Paintings of the middle-class woman in the domestic space appear to define the way that history interprets them. As the respectable woman was confined to the home, unlike the modern woman who could explore the public realm at the expense of her reputation, the presence the bourgeois woman as a part of the cult of domesticity was seen vicariously through Impressionist paintings of her in her home. While many of these, especially when painted by male artists, seem to promote the feminine ideal in addition to female stereotypes, there are undeniable aspects of the ennui and seclusion of the domestic woman's life that come to view upon observing such images. The Victorian woman may have been the most widely discussed woman in history; "Indeed, she had become a clichŽ and a myth. She is often depicted as the 'doll-like, breadand-butter miss, swooning on a sofa,' the frivolous, irrational, irresponsible creature of whim, the devotee of fashion, and of course, 'the virgin-in-the-drawing-room,' the strait-laced, thin-lipped prude, who blushed at such suggestive words as 'legs.' The most pervasive image behind these characterizations is that of the idle Victorian womanthe 'perfect lady'--the completely helpless and dependent female, whose only function in society was to inspire admiration and bear children". 131 While feminist scholars have consistently shown that the lifestyle that the bourgeois woman was presumed to lead was mostly limited to members of the upper classes, images portraying the domestic woman propagate the stereotypes that define her as a continuation of the ideal Victorian woman. Various sources have claimed that the separation of the realms denigrates women, keeping them subordinate. 132 This is especially relevant for male painters at the time, who inadvertently may have been portaying these women as submissive in their art "as a defensive male response to 131 Branca, 179. 132 Linda K. Kerber. "Separate Spheres, Female Worlds, Woman's Place: The Rhetoric of Women's History." The Journal of American History 75.1 (June 1988) 12.


90 pressures for female emancipation, and particularly for women's suffrage, at the turn of the century." 133 Unfortunately, this subject often loses autonomy in being portrayed in such paintings; depicted in the home, artists often draw comparisons between the female and the domestic space, rendering her decorative while also denying her identity and individuality by typically being unidentified, instead being defined in titles by her domestic location, activity, or lack of activity. The separation of spheres and the construction of typically mutually exclusive public and private spheres essentially characterize the marginalization of the middle-class woman. 134 Even in her own private realm, the woman is denied power in these depictions. Although she was considered the maker of the home and therefore had a place in the aesthetic hierarchy, the decoration of the domestic space is rarely emphasized. Instead, the leisurely lifestyle of the domestic woman is highlighted, as is her status as essentially becoming a part of the dŽcor. In comparison to the public realm, the home increasingly appears to be a static place. While this may have been a comforting haven for the flaneur to have a space to relax and feel comfortable, it seems to have been rather inhibiting for these women, who, by being confined to the home, "were deprived of the opportunity to learn from any but the most limited experience." 135 In a sense, the middleclass woman was denied individuality in always been tied to the home. The domestic woman in repose shows a comfort in the home. Supposedly, comfort dates from the eighteenth century, during which the home grew increasingly autonomous as a space detached from public life. Domesticity, privacy and isolation emerged from the new layout of the house where each room was independent, opening 133 Harrison, 151. 134 Vickery, 412. 135 Kerber, 13.


91 onto a corridor. 136 While these are not usually the types of domestic spaces observable in the homes of the Impressionist period and beyond, the idea of how to experience the home remains the same for the woman, to an extreme. The separate spheres promoted in the midto late-nineteenth century, and continuing into the twentieth, essentially serve as "an ideology imposed on women, a culture created by women, a set of boundaries expected to be observed by women." 137 These women "exist in a gender vacuuman exclusively feminine society"and yet remain isolated in their own reverie and quiet activity even when they share the space. 138 The limitation of the woman to the domestic realm reinforces the established separation of the spheres and the home as associated with the feminine; as Shirley Ardener notes: "The spaces of femininity are those from which femininity is lived as a positionality in discourse and social practice. They are the product of a lived sense of social locatedness, mobility and visibility, in the social relations of seeing and being seen. Shaped within the sexual politics of looking they demarcate a particular social organization of the gaze which itself works back to secure a particular social ordering of sexual difference. Femininity is both the condition and the effect". 139 The identification, and thus, behavior of the domestic woman is therefore dependent on her spacethe home. Just as she defines it, it ultimately also defines her. The majority of the paintings depicting the bourgeois woman in her home contribute to the prescriptive nature of female stereotypes. The viewer may therefore have understood these works, intended to be read as glimpses into contemporary life, as reality as they were views into the seemingly isolated life of the bourgeois woman. Since the comfort and leisure of the bourgeois woman was indicative of her husband's wealth and status, lack of activity was emphasized and the woman ultimately became decorative. The privacy of her life became exposed and contradicted by such paintings, 136 Borzello, 41. 137 Kerber, 17. 138 Van Hook "'Milk White Angels of Art'" 28. 139 Pollock, 66.


92 only further showing the control the masculine world still held over her, most overtly in terms of the gaze. The portrayals of the domestic woman also seem to emphasize her femininity, promoting the female ideal that showed how she was meant to be and how the domestic space was to be experienced by her. Since these are based on reality for the most part, though, the viewer can catch glimpses of the woman's discontentment or escapism from her situation through reverie. As a result of this, by the 1890s, the term decorative "increasingly referred to paintings of young women in contemporary costume," emphasizing mood over narrative or action. 140 These paintings may have been caused by "Members of the new bourgeois class [who] were anxious to represent both their psyches and their status through an expressive, and legible, relation to their intimate surroundings. The calculated juxtaposition of the bond to the house through the mediums of architecture, decoration, furniture arrangement and the somatic expressions of gesture, posture and personal adornment constituted nothing less than the enactment of private identity. This was a new notion in the culture, and it demanded a new pictorial expression. And if the relation of the body and the house seemed inflected by ambiguity and instability, so too was its analogue in paint: the relation of figure to ground". 141 It is interesting that the psyche is mentioned here, as is the eventual shift away from Impressionistic depictions of the home and its occupants. The home as a subject did not inhibit this exploration in style, though it could not have the same excitement and modernity of the more open woman who did explore the public realm. The widespread portrayals of the domestic woman in her realm therefore faded away in the art world. Its reemergence in works by artists such as Edward Hopper, though, proves that the issues stemming from the separation of the spheres remain relevant for quite some time. The artist, detaching his scenes from the time-specific bourgeois household, universalized the emotions of his subjects through his simple compositions, essentially transforming the unhappiness of the domestic figure into something representative of the modern 140 Van Hook, "Decorative Images of American Women" 51. 141 Reed, 66.

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93 existential condition.

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94 FIGURE PLATE Figure 1. Manet, E douard. Repose: Portrait of Berthe Morisot 1870. Oil on canvas, 58 x 43 in. Rhode Island School of Design Museum of Art. Figure 2. Manet, Edouard. Portrait of Baudelaire's Mistress 1862. Oil on canvas, 90 x 113 cm. SzŽpmuvŽszeti Mœzeum (Hungary).

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95 Figure 3. Alexander, John White. Repose 1895. Oil on canvas, 52 1/4 x 63 5/8 in. Metropolitan Museum of Art. Figure 4. Sargent, John Singer. Repose 1911. Oil on canvas, 25 x 30 in. National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.

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96 Figure 5. Dewing, Thomas Wilmer. Repose 1921. Oil on canvas, 14 x 12 in. Colby College Museum of Art. Figure 6. Morisot, Berthe. The Artist's Sister at a Window 1869. Oil on canvas, 21 1/4 x 17 3/4 in. National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.

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97 Figure 7. Beaux, Cecilia. New England Woman 1895. Oil on canvas, 43 x 24 in. Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. Figure 8. Monet, Claude. Meditation: Mme Monet on a Sofa, 1866. Oil on canvas, 48 x 75 cm. MusŽe d'Orsay.

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98 Figure 9. Tarbell, Edmund C. Across the Room c. 1899. Oil on canvas, 25 x 30 1/8 in. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Figure 10. Manet, Edouard. The Lecture 1848. Oil on canvas, 60.5 x 73.5 cm. MusŽe d'Orsay.

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99 Figure 11. Fragonard, Jean-HonorŽ. Young Girl Reading 1770. Oil on canvas, 31 15/16 x 25 1/2 in. National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C. Figure 12. Cassatt, Mary. Reading 'Le Figaro', 1883. Oil on canvas, 104.2 x 83.8 cm.

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100 Figure 13. Matisse, Henri. Woman Reading 1894. Oil on canvas, 24 1/4 x 18 7/8 in. MusŽe National d'Arte Moderne, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris. Figure 14. Backer, Harriet. By Lamplight 1890. Oil on canvas, 65 x 67 cm. Bergen kunstmuseum.

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101 Figure 15. Tarbell, Edmund C. Girl Reading 1909. Oil on canvas, 32 1/4 x 28 1/2 in. Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Figure 16. Hopper, Edward. Hotel Room 1931. Oil on canvas, 152.4 x 165.7 cm. Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid.

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102 Figure 17. Hale, Lilian Westcott. L'Edition de Luxe 1910. Oil on canvas, 23 x 15 1/8 in. Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Figure 18. Chase, William Merritt. For the Little One 1896. Oil on canvas, 40 x 35 in. The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

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103 Figure 19. Hammershi, Vilhelm. Interior with a Lady 1901. Oil on canvas, 54.9 cm x 53 cm. The Detroit Institute of Arts. Figure 20. Hammershi, Vilhelm. Woman in an Interior 1900-1909. Oil on canvas, 22 1/2 x 24 1/2 in.. Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

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104 Figure 21. Hopper, Edward. New York Interior c. 1921. Oil on canvas, 24 1/4 x 29 1/4 in. Whitney Museum of American Art. Figure 22. Dewing, Thomas Wilmer. The Spinet c. 1907. Oil on wood, 15 1/2 x 20 in. Smithsonian American Art Museum.

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105 Figure 23. Cassatt, Mary. The Tea c. 1880. Oil on canvas, 25 1/2 x 36 1/4 in. Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Figure 24. Tarbell, Edmund C. Arrangement in Pink and Gray, Afternoon Tea c. 1894. Oil on canvas. Worcester Art Museum.

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106 Figure 25. Chase, William Merritt. Friendly Call 1895. Oil on canvas, 30 x 48 in. National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C. Figure 26. Morisot, Berthe. The Mother and Sister of the Artist 1869-70. Oil on canvas, 39 3/4 x 32 3/16 in. National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.

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107 Figure 27. Dewing, Thomas Wilmer. A Reading 1897. Oil on canvas, 20 1/4 x 30 1/4 in. Smithsonian American Art Museum. Figure 28. Tarbell, Edmund Charles. Three Girls Reading 1907. Oil on canvas, 25 x 30 in. Private Collection.

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108 Figure 29. Vuillard, Edouard. Women in an Interior c. 1900. Oil on cardboard, 57 x 61 cm. Figure 30. Hicks, George Elgar. Woman's Mission: Companion of Manhood 1863. Oil on canvas, 76.2 x 64.1 cm. Tate Collection.

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109 Figure 31. Tarbell, Edmund Charles. The Breakfast Room c. 1903. Oil on canvas, 25 x 30 in. Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. Figure 32. Paxton, William McGregor. Breakfast 1911. Oil on canvas, 28 x 35 in. The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

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110 Figure 33. Sickert, Walter. Enuui c. 1914. Oil on canvas, 152.4 cm x 112.4 cm. Tate Britain. Figure 34. Degas, Edgar. Interior (Le Viol) 1868-69. Oil on canvas, 32 x 45 in. Philadelphia Museum of Art.

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111 Figure 35. Hopper, Edward. Room in New York 1932. Oil on canvas, 29 x 36 in. Sheldon Memorial Art Gallery and Sculpture Garden, University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Figure 36. Hopper, Edward. Summer in the City 1949. Oil on canvas, 76 x 51 cm. Private Collection.

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112 Figure 37. Hopper, Edward. Summer Interior 1909. Oil on canvas, 61 x 73 in. Whitney Museum of American Art. Figure 38. Degas, Edgar. The Bellelli Family, 1858-1867. Oil on canvas, 200 x 250 cm. MusŽe d'Orsay, Paris.

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113 Figure 39. Whistler, James Abbott McNeill. Harmony in Green and Rose: The Music Room 1860-61. Oil on canvas, 37 1/2 x 28 in. Freer Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. Figure 40. Degas, Edgar. HŽlne Rouart in her Father's Study 1886. Oil on canvas 162 x 123 cm. National Gallery, London.

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114 WORKS CITED Arde ner, Shi rley. Women and Space: Ground Rule s and Social Maps New York: St. Martin's Press, 1981. Boggs, Jean S. "Edgar Degas and the Bellellis." Art Bulletin 37 (1955): 127-136. Borzello, Frances. At Home: the Domestic Interior in Art New York: Thames & Hudson, 2006. Branca, Patricia. "Image and Reality: The Myth of the Idle Victorian Woman." Clio's Consciousness Raised. Eds. Mary S. Hartman and Lois Banner. New York: Harper & Row, 1974. 179-191. Broude, Norma. "Will the Real Impressionists Please Stand Up?" Art News 85.5 (May 1986): 84-89. Broude, Norma, and Mary D. Garrard. Reclaiming Female Agency: Feminist Art History After Postmodernism Berkeley: University of California Press, 2005. Burbank, Emily. Woman as Decoration 1917. New York, Dodd, Mead and Company. Burgin, Victor. In/different Spaces: Place and Memory in Visual Culture Berkeley: University of California Press, 1996. Casteras, Susan P, and Hilarie Faberman. The Substance or the Shadow: Images of Victorian Womanhood New Haven: Yale Center for British Art, 1982. Chadwick, Whitney. Women, Art, and Society New York, N.Y: Thames and Hudson, 1990. Clark, T J. The Painting of Modern Life: Paris in the Art of Manet and His Followers Princeton, N.J: Princeton University Press, 1999. Cogeval, Guy. ƒdouard Vuillard New Haven: Yale University Press, 2003. Dolan, Therese. "Skirting the Issue: Manet's Portrait of Baudelaire's Mistress, Reclining." The Art Bulletin 79.4 (December 1997): 611-629.

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