Beauty, Virtue and Vice
September 30, 2011 9:01 PM Subscribe
posted by netbros (10 comments total)
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Most of the prints in the exhibit "Beauty, Virtue and Vice: Images of Women in Nineteenth-Century American Prints
" were designed simply to please the eye, but they are also useful to historians who would like to understand how nineteenth-century Americans thought about the world in which they lived. Although prints are often works of imagination (even when they are grounded in fact), they still have much to tell us about the time and place in which they were created.
Highlights from this online exhibit include:
— with a Map of the Open Country of a Woman's Heart
. This map of a woman's heart tells us much about what the artist and his society believed about women. This illustration perfectly captures nineteenth-century ideas about womanhood.
Women as Objects of Beauty and Desire
— Prints depicting beautiful women were often influenced by other forms of popular culture. Some of the finest prints produced in the United States were copies of admired European and American paintings. Print artists also created their own original representations of heroic characters from novels and theatrical presentations.
— Many nineteenth-century Americans believed that women had unique abilities, talents, and propensities that were natural attributes of their sex. Women were thought to be naturally dependent, nurturing, and well suited for domestic labor. Such ideas complemented the notion that men were defined by opposite characteristics, which included independence and bravery; strength of character, mind, and body; and a natural talent for mastery and dominance over their environments.
Threats to the Ideals of True Womanhood: Slavery
— Slavery was almost unquestionably the most important issue of the nineteenth century. Women were frequently at the center when slavery debates were translated into visual images.