EXCLUSIVE WEBINAR | “Marble Queens and Painted Ladies: Women, Art, and Idealism in the Gilded Age”
Presented by Dr. Mary Ann Calo
with Additional Commentary by Dr. Rocky Ruggiero
Images of women were everywhere in the Gilded Age, so much so that historians talk about the era in terms of the “feminization” of American culture. This refers not only to women being involved in culture, as patrons, artists, and viewers, but also to the ubiquity of women as subjects in visual art.
Women in this era were closely connected to the arts and art was associated with idealism. Both were understood to exist outside the crass materialism and brutality of the real world. While it was assumed that women do not participate in economic progress as active agents, within their separate spheres they are agents of idealism; the same was true of art itself, whose primary function was to uplift and instruct.
This lecture will explore how Gilded Age representations of women in visual art signify and embody multiple notions of idealism. On the one hand, women were associated with the concepts of beauty and perfection. Such images often reflect highly romanticized notions of how women should look and how they should behave. But it also became common in the Gilded Age to use women, sometimes nude or dressed in “historical” costumes, to personify abstract ideals such as truth, learning, and justice. In these kinds of images women were symbols, far removed from actual experience and informed by Italianate depictions of mythological and religious figures. We will also look at artists who resisted these impulses towards idealization and sought to portray women and their lives in more realistic terms.
The webinar will include a 45-minute lecture followed by 15-minutes of Q&A.
- Your participation is confirmed once you have purchased your ticket. You will receive the Zoom link to join the presentation circa 30 minutes before the start time.
- VIDEO RECORDING of the webinar will be available for unlimited streaming at your convenience for 7 days after the event.