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Title: Family and familiarity : the domestic sphere in eighteenth-century English visual culture
Author: Retford, Kate
ISNI:       0000 0004 2730 6771
Awarding Body: University of Warwick
Current Institution: University of Warwick
Date of Award: 2000
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This thesis analyses eighteenth-century portraiture within the context of 'norms' propagated in contemporary prescriptive and fictional literature, 'norms' which overlay a heterogeneous reality. The aspirant portraitist had to accord with the desire of sitters to be depicted in a manner that would receive approbation. Thus, disparate relationships were pictorially subsumed within affectionate ideals that burgeoned in the mid eighteenth century, stimulated by the cult of sensibility and disseminated through an expanding body of literature to an expanding readership. However, these did not displace more 'traditional' concerns, but appeared alongside continuing pictorial emphases on patriarchy, hierarchy and dynastic continuity. The introduction outlines the historiography and methodology and provides a detailed summary of each chapter. Chapter one examines the emergence of the companionate marital portrait, together with pictorial condemnations of arranged and romantic unions. Chapter two argues that this new emphasis on affection did not displace patriarchy. Pendants continued to demarcate masculine and feminine domains whilst double portraits emphasised those domains as complementary, but unequal. Chapter three discusses the pictorial and literary sentimentalisation of motherhood and argues that condemnations of female display were acknowledged in portraits of engrossed and self-effacing mothers. Chapter four counters that the sentimentalisation of the patriarch was limited by a continuing preoccupation with his pre-eminence and that later images of playful children maintained earlier concerns with age and gender hierarchies and 'futurity'. Chapter five argues that both an emphasis on heirs and anxiety over the implications of high infant mortality for dynastic succession remained constant. The contextualisation of portraits within the home also reveals an emphasis on unbroken lineage. Chapter six examines satires of transgressions of ideal familial relations by members of a supposedly debauched aristocracy. However, these aristocrats sometimes countered such attacks with portraits emphasising status and domestic virtue. The conclusion summarises the arguments and discusses their implications for debates over class.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: British Academy ; Chelmsford Educational Foundation ; University of Warwick
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: DA Great Britain ; N Visual arts (General) For photography, see TR