9/03/2021 PHILLIPS MUSEUM OF ART

Artful Nature: Fashion & Theatricality

 Between 1770 and 1830, both fashionable dress and theatrical practice underwent dramatic changes in an attempt to become more “natural.” And yet this desire was widely recognized as paradoxical, since both fashion and the theater were longstanding tropes of artifice. In this exhibition, we examine this paradox of “artful nature” through the changing conception of theatricality during these decades, as mirrored and expressed in fashionable dress. Theater and performance practices in the late eighteenth century, including the vogue for private theatricals, reinforced the blurred lines between the theater and everyday life. Classical sculpture became a reference point for women, as its artistic excellence was acclaimed precisely because it seemed so “natural.” But when actresses, dancers, painters, or fashionable women posed themselves as classical statues come to life, they acted as both Pygmalion and Galatea, both genius artist and living artwork, carving out a space for their own artistic agency. Artful Nature refers simultaneously to the theatricality and deception typically attributed to fashionable women in the late eighteenth century, and to the potential survival strategies employed by women artists, authors, and actresses to craft their own parts.

Curated by Laura Engel, Professor of English at Duquesne University and Amelia Rauser, Associate Dean of the Faculty and Professor of Art History at Franklin & Marshall College.

 

Thumbnail Image Credit: James Gillray. Modern Grace, or the Operatical Finale to the Ballet of Alonzo e Caro. Etching with hand coloring, 21 x 26". Published May 5, 1796, by Hannah Humphrey 796.05.05.02+.

 

Opening Reception & Gallery Talk: September 23 at 5pm, Gibson Gallery

Make your own "reticule", the 18th century's first handbag Workshop: October 28 at 4pm, Booth Ferris, Steinman College Center

 

 

  • G.M. Woodward. Detail of Art of Fainting in Company, 1797. Etching with hand coloring. The Lewis Walpole Library, Yale University, 797.05.27.08. Image Credit: G.M. Woodward. Detail of Art of Fainting in Company, 1797. Etching with hand coloring. The Lewis Walpole Library, Yale University, 797.05.27.08.
  • Thomas Rowlandson. Dissolution of Partnership or the Industrious Mrs. Clarke Winding Up Her Accounts. Etching with hand coloring. Published February 15, 1809, by Thomas Tegg. 809.02.15.01+. Image Credit: Thomas Rowlandson. Dissolution of Partnership or the Industrious Mrs. Clarke Winding Up Her Accounts. Etching with hand coloring. Published February 15, 1809, by Thomas Tegg. 809.02.15.01+.
Story 9/3/2021

Vivian Springford

Winter Building: September 7-October 29, 2021 

Read More
Story 9/3/2021

Kathleen Elliot: Questionable Foods

Dana Gallery, September 7-December 10, 2021 

Read More
Story 9/3/2021

Local Artist Spotlight: Jerome Wright

Nissley Gallery, September 7-December 10, 2021 

Read More