Exhibition | Becoming a Woman in the Age of Enlightenment

Posted in books, catalogues, conferences (to attend), exhibitions by internjmb on September 6, 2017

Jacques-Antoine-Marie Lemoine, Woman Standing in a Garden, 1783, black chalk and brush with gray wash on off-white laid paper; Antoine Vestier, Allegory of the Arts, 1788, oil on canvas; and Louis-Léopold Boilly, Conversation in a Park, oil on canvas. All on loan from The Horvitz Collection.

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From the Harn Museum of Art:

Becoming a Woman in the Age of Enlightenment: French Art from The Horvitz Collection
Harn Museum of Art, University of Florida, Gainesville, 6 October — 31 December 2017
Ackland Art Museum, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 26 January — 8 April 2018
Crocker Art Museum, Sacramento, 13 May — 19 August 2018
Smith College Museum of Art, Northampton, MA,  dates TBA

Curated by Melissa Hyde and Mary D. Sheriff
Organized by Alvin Clark 

Becoming a Woman in the Age of Enlightenment: French Art from the Horvitz Collection is primarily an exhibition of drawings but will include pastels, paintings, and sculptures selected from one of the world’s best private collections of French drawings. The exhibition will feature nearly 120 works by many of the most prominent artists of the eighteenth century, including Antoine Watteau, Nicolas Lancret, François Boucher, Jean-Honoré Fragonard, as well as lesser-known artists both male and female, such as Anne Vallayer-Coster, Gabrielle Capet, François-André Vincent, Philibert-Louis Debucourt. Ranging from spirited, improvisational sketches and figural studies, to highly finished drawings of exquisite beauty, the works included in the exhibition vary in terms of style, genre, and period.

Becoming a Woman will be organized into thematic sections that address some of the most important and defining questions of women’s lives in the eighteenth century. These include: how the stages of a woman’s life were measured; what cultural attitudes and conditions in France shaped how women were defined; what significant relations women formed with men; what social and familial rituals gave order to their lives; what pleasures they pursued; and what work they accomplished. The aim is to bring new insights to the questions of what it meant to be a woman in this period, by offering the first exhibition to focus specifically on representations of women of a broad range of ages and conditions.

The exhibition will offer fresh perspectives on a subject that still has direct relevance to our times but that has not been the focus of a significant exhibition for decades. Through its conceptual framework, thematic organization, and its emphasis on historical context, the exhibition will provide viewers opportunities to consider what issues pertaining to women’s lives seem to have changed or persisted through time and across space. Although the circumstances and the specifics have changed, many issues remain with us today and can still provoke contentious debates. Pay equity, reproductive rights, gender-discrimination, violence against women, work-family balance, the ‘plight’ of the alpha-female, and the devaluation of the stay-at-home mom, are but a few of the women’s issues that are still hotly contested in the media, in cultural production of all kinds, in politics, and in public and private life.

Becoming a Woman is curated by Melissa Hyde, Professor of Art History, University of Florida Research Foundation Professor, University of Florida, and the late Mary D. Sheriff, W.R. Kenan J. Distinguished Professor of Art History, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill; the exhibition is organized by Alvin L. Clark, Jr, Curator, The Horvitz Collection and The J.E. Horvitz Research Curator, Harvard Art Museums/Fogg.

The catalogue is available from ArtBooks.com:

Melissa Hyde, Mary D. Sheriff, and Alvin Clark, Becoming a Woman in the Age of Enlightenment: French Art from The Horvitz Collection (Boston: The Horvitz Collection, 2017), 208 pages, ISBN: 978 099126 2526, $39.

François Boucher, Young Travelers, black chalk on cream antique laid paper, framing line in black ink, laid down on a decorated mount, 295 × 188 mm; Jacques-Louis David, Andromache Mourning the Death of Hector, pen with black ink and brush with gray wash over traces of black chalk on cream antique laid paper, 293 × 248 mm; Jean-Baptiste Greuze, The Chestnut Vendor, brush with gray and brown wash on cream antique laid paper, 385 × 460 mm. All works on loan from The Horvitz Collection.

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From the Lecture and Symposium Schedule:

Thinking Women: Art and Representation in the Eighteenth Century
A Symposium in Honor of Mary D. Sheriff

Harn Museum of Art, University of Florida, Gainesville, 20–22 October 2017

• Keynote Address: “The Woman Artist and the Uncovering of the Social World,” Lynn Hunt, Distinguished Research Professor, University of California, Los Angeles

Art, women, and society came together in surprising ways at the end of the eighteenth century. ‘Society’ only began to be conceptualized as an object for study at the end of the 1700s, in particular in reaction to the French Revolution. Art, especially engraving and painting, helped make society visible to itself. Women could join the art world but rarely as fully fledged members, and as a consequence they occupied a kind of in-between position that made them especially attuned to social relations. The life and work of Marie-Gabrielle Capet will be highlighted to show how the social world could be uncovered.

• “Fashion in Time: Visualizing Costume in the Eighteenth Century,” Susan Siegfried, Denise Riley Collegiate Professor of the History of Art and Women’s Studies, Department of Art History, University of Michigan

• “Beauty Is a Letter of Credit,” Nina Dubin, Associate Professor, Department of Art and Art History University of Illinois, Chicago

• “Chardin: Gender and Interiority,” Ewa Lajer-Burcharth, William Dorr Boardman Professor of Fine Arts, Department of History of Art and Architecture, Harvard University

• “The Global Allure of the Porcelain Room,” Meredith Martin, Department of Art History, New York University

• “Pictured Together? Questions of Gender, Race, and Social Rank in the Portrait of Dido Elizabeth Belle and Lady Elizabeth Murray,” Jennifer Germann, Associate Professor, Department of Art History, Ithaca College

• “Becoming an Animal in the Age of Enlightenment,” Amy Freund, Associate Professor & Kleinheinz Family Endowed Chair in Art History, Southern Methodist University

• “Marguerite Lecomte’s Smile: Portrait of a Woman Engraver,” Mechthild Fend, Reader in the History of Art, Department of History of Art, University College London

• “Exceptional, but not Exceptions: Women Artists in the Age of Revolution,” Paris Spies Gans, Doctoral Candidate, Department of History, Princeton University

The final program, with times, is available here»

At the Ackland Art Museum at UNC, Chapel Hill, there will be a sister symposium in Mary’s honor entitled “Taking Exception: Women, Gender, Representation in the Eighteenth Century,” 1–3 February 2018.

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Note (added 14 October 2017) — The posting has been updated with additional information, including details on the catalogue, venues, and the conferences.



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