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Women Art Critics in Nineteenth-Century France

Vanishing Acts

Wendelin Guentner

Over the past years, studies have begun not only to identify the factors that impeded the full participation of women artists in French cultural life, such as women’s limited access to professional art education, but also to bring to light the considerable artistic accomplishments of women occluded by historians for over a century. A similar effort at historical revision has been under way for French women writers. Works of fiction that enjoyed many editions in the nineteenth-century receded from our field of vision for almost a century before being rediscovered and reissued during the last decades of the twentieth century. Such efforts have resulted in scholarship that has helped revise the history of both artistic and literary expression in nineteenth-century France.

Similarly, many women in nineteenth-century France had their art criticism published both in journal reviews and in book form, often for decades, in a number of the most influential venues of their day. However, it is perplexing that they remain almost totally invisible in histories of French culture.
Women Art Critics in Nineteenth-Century France: Vanishing Acts is the first sustained effort to bring these prolific and influential critics out from the shadows. Although each of the chapters in this volume results from an interdisciplinary approach, the fact that they are written by scholars in art history and in literature means that there will be inevitable differences in approach and methodology. Thus, we study the women’s reception of specific artworks and aesthetic movements, discuss intersections of aesthetics and politics in their essays and the literary styles and rhetorical strategies of individual critics, explore the social conditions that allowed or impeded their successes, and suggest reasons for their all but disappearance in the twentieth century. In bringing to light for twenty-first-century readers the “vanished” writings of heretofore unrecognized or underrecognized women art critics, the authors hope to contribute to the ongoing revision of women’s role in cultural history. The multifaceted approaches to word/image studies modeled in this book, and the many avenues for further research it identifies, will inspire scholars in a number of disciplines to continue the work of reinscribing women in the history of cultural life.

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University Press Copublishing Division / University of Delaware Press
Pages: 382Size: 6 1/4 x 9 1/4
978-1-61149-446-4 • Hardback • March 2013 • $95.00 • (£65.00)
978-1-61149-566-9 • Paperback • February 2015 • $44.99 • (£29.95)
978-1-61149-447-1 • eBook • March 2013 • $41.99 • (£27.95)
Wendelin Guentner is professor of French literature and culture at the University of Iowa.
List of Illustrations

Preface - Wendelin Guentner
Women Writing Art
Reappearing Acts

Introduction - Wendelin Guentner
The Ideology of the Two Spheres
The Education of Girls
The Menace of the
The Salon and Its Art Critics
The Golden Age of Art Criticism: Society, Economics, and Culture
Art Criticism as a Literary Genre: Denis Diderot
The Literary Craft of Art Criticism

Chapter 1 - Heather Belnap Jensen
C.W. . . . académicienne’: Caroline Wuiet and the Emergence of the Woman Art Critic in Postrevolutionary France”
Wuiet and Authorial Voice
What a Woman Wants: Female Spectatorship

Chapter 2 - Heather Belnap Jensen
Amélie-Julie Candeille’s Critical Enterprise and the Creation of “Girodet”
Epistolary Art Criticism in Women’s Writings
Candeille as Corresponding Critic
Managing Girodet
Fashioning Girodet
en publique

Chapter 3 - Véronique Chagnon-Burke
Women Art Critics during the July Monarchy (1830–1848)
Art Criticism and the Paris Salon
Women Art Critics and the Parisian Cultural World
Women as Spectators
Beyond Gender: Issues of Class and Education
Further Questions

Chapter 4 - Véronique Chagnon-Burke
“A Career True to Woman’s Nature”: Constructing the Woman Artist
in France’s Midcentury Feminine Press
Women Artists: Class and Education
The Mission of Women Art Critics
The British Connection
Gender or Class?
The Gender of Genius and the Artistic Genres
Women Art Critics and the (Limited) Contours of an Artistic Vision

Chapter 5 - Wendelin Guentner
Claude Vignon’s
Salon de 1850–51: Dialogues of Art and Ideology
The Art Critic and Her Readers
Historical Context and Political Ideologies
Spiritual Ideologies
The Author behind the Critic

Chapter 6 - Wendelin Guentner
Dieu! une plume de femme!”: Mathilde Stevens’s Impressions d’une femme au Salon de 1859
A Rhetoric of Sincerity
To Feel or to Think: That Is the Question
Playing Favorites: Critics, and Artists at the 1859 Salon
A Voice of Her Own

Chapter 7 - Wendelin Guentner
“Marc” de Montifaud: The “esprit critique” of an
esprit fort
Envisioning History Painting
Genre Painting: History Writ Small
Portraits of Degeneration
The Subjective Landscape
Corot, Pagan Poet

Chapter 8 - Véronique Chagnon-Burke
Tel père, telle fille”: Judith Gautier, Artist, Writer, and Art Critic
Judith Gautier, Artist, and the French Art World
Judith Gautier, Author, and the Far East
Judith Gautier, Art Critic

Conclusion - Wendelin Guentner
The Ideology of the Two Spheres, Revisited
Vanishing Genre?
Vanishing Gender?
Final Act

Appendices:Biographical Sketches
Appendix 1 - Amélie-Julie Candeille - Heather Belnap Jensen
Appendix 2 - Judith Gautier - Véronique Chagnon-Burke
Appendix 3 - Marc de Montifaud - Wendelin Guentner
Appendix 4 - Mathilde Stevens - Wendelin Guentner
Appendix 5 - Claude Vignon - Wendelin Guentner
Appendix 6 - Caroline Wuiet - Heather Belnap Jensen
Appendix 7 - Biographical Intersections - Wendelin Guentner