Title

The Gendered Lives of the Eighteenth Century in Art: Two Portraits by Henry Benbridge

Lead Author Major

History and Gender Studies

Format

Oral Presentation

Faculty Mentor Name

Merrill Schleier

Faculty Mentor Department

Visual Arts

Abstract/Artist Statement

The focus of my paper is an examination of the changes that took place in eighteenth century American society as represented in the portraiture of colonial painter Henry Benbridge. In The Archibald Bulloch Family of 1775 and Thomas Middleton of Crowfield and His Daughter Mary of 1776, Benbridge renders the changing gender roles status of men, women, and children which occurred at this time. Women in the eighteenth century were desexualized, as their duties as wives and mothers became recognized as essential to domesticity. Female children were subordinated as male children were increasingly recognized as possessing masculine characteristics. In response to the changing roles in the nuclear family, men assumed a more paternalistic role. As men and women were separated biologically with the acceptance of the two-sexed body, men could be interested fathers without fear of any association with the feminine. In order to prove this I will employ four specific methods that will allow close analysis of the portraits. Formal analysis of the paintings will reveal initial gender inscriptions, while the methods of gender theory, cultural and social analysis, and historical analysis will allow me to place the paintings, and artist, in a particular time period. By looking at the dominant ideologies of the time and how they changed, it can be seen how they shaped the lives of colonial Americans and how they came to be remembered in portraits.

Location

DeRosa University Center, Room 216

Start Date

21-4-2011 5:00 PM

End Date

21-4-2011 8:00 PM

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Apr 21st, 5:00 PM Apr 21st, 8:00 PM

The Gendered Lives of the Eighteenth Century in Art: Two Portraits by Henry Benbridge

DeRosa University Center, Room 216

The focus of my paper is an examination of the changes that took place in eighteenth century American society as represented in the portraiture of colonial painter Henry Benbridge. In The Archibald Bulloch Family of 1775 and Thomas Middleton of Crowfield and His Daughter Mary of 1776, Benbridge renders the changing gender roles status of men, women, and children which occurred at this time. Women in the eighteenth century were desexualized, as their duties as wives and mothers became recognized as essential to domesticity. Female children were subordinated as male children were increasingly recognized as possessing masculine characteristics. In response to the changing roles in the nuclear family, men assumed a more paternalistic role. As men and women were separated biologically with the acceptance of the two-sexed body, men could be interested fathers without fear of any association with the feminine. In order to prove this I will employ four specific methods that will allow close analysis of the portraits. Formal analysis of the paintings will reveal initial gender inscriptions, while the methods of gender theory, cultural and social analysis, and historical analysis will allow me to place the paintings, and artist, in a particular time period. By looking at the dominant ideologies of the time and how they changed, it can be seen how they shaped the lives of colonial Americans and how they came to be remembered in portraits.