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66 N. Venette. Conjugal Love; or, The Pleasures of the Marriage Bed Considered in Several Lectures on Human Generation (1703. first Dutch edition 1687) (London. 20 th edition. 1750). pp.79Fordyce. Sermons to Young Women I. p.197; More. Strictures on the Modern System of Female Education II. p.30 As we saw in the previous chapter, it was frequently hoped that an improved female education would help to counter such inadequacies and thereby create suitable companions for men of sense. 68 Reading and other educative activities could help to stimulate rationality and provide enough knowledge for adequate conversation between spouses. However, a clear distinction was drawn between this need for feminine improvement and the creation of the much dreaded 'learned lady.' Women were not to be overly assertive or to employ their knowledge simply to contradict or to debate their husband's ideas. The companionship depicted in these portraits is a proactive ideal on the part of the husband and a responsive one on that of the wife. It reflects the principle expressed in Squire Allworthy's approving comments on Sophia
No dictatorial sentiments, no judicial opinions, no profound criticisms.
Whenever I have seen her in the company of men, she hath been all attention, with the modesty of a learner, not the forwardness of a teacher...Indeed, she always shewed the highest deference to the understandings of men; a quality absolutely essential to the making a good wife. 69 Thus, whilst sitters such as Mrs Hallett have sufficient sense to be suitable wifely companions, they remain deferential to their husband's knowledge. The men expound, the women listen and react.
H. Fielding, The History of Tom Jones (1749), ed. R.P.C. Mutter (Harmondsworth, 1985), p.784 Not only do these paintings indicate the wife's respect for her husband's superior understanding, but they also evidence his contribution to her education.
Francis Douglas, having damned the 'learned lady' by comparing her conversation to "the barking of a lap-dog" or "the chatter of parrot," still wanted women to be improved through masculine conversation. This could "correct and strengthen the judgement, enlarge the faculties of the mind, and raise the soul to a free and generous way of thinking," thereby enabling a man to secure "an agreeable and entertaining Companion."70 Hannah More later contended that, not only could the instructive conversation of a husband "call into exercise the powers of mind which women actually possess," but it could "even awaken energies which they do not know they possess."71 However, the best analogy with the ethos of such paintings is to be found in an earlier narrative passage from The Spectator. Laetitia has "Sense enough" to be a suitable wife for Erastus who "has a general Taste in most Parts of Polite Learning."
However, she still requires his instruction:
When they take the Air together, Erastus is continually improving her Thoughts, and, with a tum of Wit and Spirit which is peculiar to him, giving her an Insight into things she had no Notions of before. Laetitia is 70 Douglas, Reflections on Courtship and Marriage, p.20. Similarly, The Road to Hymen, p.6 later promised the wife of a man of understanding and education, "his conversation will improve your mind, refine your taste, and better your judgement." For the learned lady, see chapter 1, p.65.
More, Strictures on the Modern System of Female Education, II. pp.44, 45. Also, Roxana in Defoe's novel. p.101 accompanies her lover. the Prince. to Italy where he shows her things and tells her their history. She remarks: "Had I been a Daughter. or a Wife, of whom it might be said, that he had a just Concern in their Instruction, or Improvement, it had been an admirable Step; but all this to a Whore!" and Wetenhall Wilkes, A Letter of Genteel and Moral Advice to a Young Lady (1744) (Dublin, 3rd edition, 1751) p.127 praised husbands who divert their wives by means of conversation, amusements and diversions.
transported at having a new World thus opened to her, and hangs upon the Man that gives her such agreeable Informations. 72 The dialogue between masculine rationality and feminine frivolity is apparent in other recurrent narrative devices in later eighteenth-century double portraits. Some represent the husband indicating a painting or drawing for his wife's inspection and education, recommending her attention to the original and inviting a comparison between the two. For example, Sir Rowland Winn, in a portrait attributed to Thomas Bardwell and dated to 1770 (fig.41), supports a drawing of a female classical bust in profile as he gestures to the original on a pedestal, conferring with his wife on the quality of the resemblance.?3 The couple are located in their library, facing the windows and posed against the expensive Chippendale desk that is still to be seen in the room. The only alteration the artist has made in describing their location is to double the architectural motif of the pediment supported on four pilasters, thus suggesting the library to be much bigger than it actually is. The room had recently The Spectator no.506 (10 October 1712), in The Spectator, IV, p.297. Desmond ShaweTaylor. The Georgians, p.133 notes an equally analogous passage in James Thomson's Spring, first published in 1728. lines 936-49: "Perhaps thy loved Lucinda shares thy walkj With soul to thine attuned. Then Nature alV Wears to the lover's eye a look of love;! And all the tumult of a guilty worldj Tossed by ungenerous passions, sinks away.! The tender heart is animated peace;! And, as it pours its copious treasures forth! In varied converse, softening every themej You. frequent pausing turn. and from her eyesj Where meekened sense and amiable grace! And lively sweetness dwell. enraptured drink! That nameless spirit of ethereal joy j Inimitable happiness! Which love! Alone bestows, and on a favoured few."
73 Attributed to Bardwell by Saumarez-Smith. Eighteenth-Century Decoration, p.270 been redesigned by Robert Adam and the bust that they contemplate is presumably one of those that were commissioned to surmount the bookcases,?4 As is suggested by Sabine Louise d'Hervet's implied involvement in the redecoration of Nostell Priory, this second group of paintings similarly indicates the wife's ameliorating and inspirational nature. In 1780, Wright of Derby painted the Reverend d'Ewes Coke with one arm around his wife's shoulders in a companionate pose similar to that of the Winns (fig.42). With his other, he gestures towards the landscape that is presumably depicted in the sketch supported by his cousin. As in Hogarth's portrait of David Garrick and his Wife, Eva Maria (fig. 11), the figure of the female located slightly behind that of the male suggests the iconographical theme of the muse, the inspirational female. 75 And, as in Mr and Mrs Hallett, the artist has emphasised a pictorial affiliation between the figure of Hannah d'Ewes Coke and the surrounding landscape. She is garbed in a green dress, shaded with yellow where the sun catches the fabric, and is thus integrated into nature both colouristically and through the unity of the lighting.
A third group of portraits in which the male profitably utilises his leisure time in order to educate his wife shows him reading to his spouse within the beneficent environs of the landscape garden. For example, the Royal Academy exhibition of 1773 included a portrait by Reynolds of David and Eva Maria Garrick seated on a bench (fig.43). Garrick holds an open book and gazes at his wife, awaiting her response on the passage he has just read aloud. She is clearly pondering the issues 74 See the National Trust guide to the property. Nostell Priory (London. 1997), pp.1l-14 and M. W. Brockwell. Catalogue of the Pictures and other Works of Art in the Collection of Lord St.
Oswald at Nostell Priory (London. 1915). pp.I44-5 See chapter 1. p.74 raised, resting one cheek on her hand in a familiar contemplative gesture. Hester Chapone recommended that such activities could profitably fill empty hours in one's husband's company when conversation had ground to a halt,76 Translating the ideal into fiction, the infatuated Evelina describes her activities with Lord Orville to her guardian, the Reverend Mr Villars. When they walk, "he condescends to be my companion, and keeps by my side all the way." At other times, he assists in her education through books: "When we read, he marks the passages most worthy to be noticed, draws out my sentiments, and favours me with his own."77 His role in their relationship recalls that of the reformed Mr B. During a lengthy disquisition on her future activities as a wife, Pamela informs her fiance that she will read in her leisure time, as "will not books help to polish my mind, and make me worthier of your company and conversation? And when I am at a loss to understand any thing I read, what a delightful instructor shall I have, if you will permit me to have recourse to yoU?"78 * * * * * 76 H. Chapone. A Letter to a New-Married Lady (London, 1777). pp.16-7: "If you can prevail upon him to read with you. to practise music with you. or to teach you a language or a science. you will them find amusement for every hour; and nothing is more endearing than such communications. The improvements and accomplishments you gain from him will be doubly valuable in his esteem; and certainly you can never acquire them so agreeably as from his lips."
77 F. Burney. Evelina; or, The History of a Young Lady's Entrance into the World (1778). ed.
E.A. Bloom (Oxford. 1982). p.296 78 S. Richardson. Pamela; or, Virtue Rewarded (1740). ed. M.A. Doody (Harmondsworth.
1985). p.300 At this point, however, it is important to note that whilst the conventions outlined above predominated, some artists did venture beyond the boundaries of separate but mutually complementary spheres of qualities and activities. In particular, Francis Cotes executed a number of marital portraits in the late 1760s that are highly unusual in their narrative and compositional devices. A fragment of one of these is now in the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston (fig.44). Dating from 1769, it depicts a lady, her head resting on one hand in a distinctly male cogitative pose, grasping a scroll and meditating over a small statuette based on Etienne-Maurice Falconet's L 'Amour Menafant. This artwork was originally supported by the accompanying figure of her husband, seated to the right of the painting and in a distinctly subordinate and less assertive stance. The romantic nature of his gesture, defined by the presentation of a sculpture of Cupid, in part explains the reversal of typical gender roles as a compliment to the lady and to her husband's affection. However, her emphatic outward gaze towards the viewer, together with her dominant pose and gesture, is highly unconventional. Cotes's depiction of Mr William Earle Welby and his first Wife, Penelope, also executed in that year and exhibited at the Royal Academy, is again highly unusual (fig.45). The couple are shown engaged in a game of chess and, whilst Mrs Welby is seated and both figures meet the viewer's gaze, she indicates her white piece that is about to win the game whilst her husband gestures despairingly towards the board. 79 Indeed, as Karen Stanworth has noted, See E.M. Johnson, Francis Cotes: Complete Edition with a Critical Essay and a Catalogue (Oxford, 1976), pp.98-100 "contemporary literature often portrayed the game of chess as a battle of individual will, employing militaristic metaphors". 80 Similarly, some of Thomas Gainsborough's female portraits break with conventions of gender, as exemplified in his 1760 depiction of Miss Ford, cogitatively posed, legs crossed as she grasps her guitar (Cincinnati Art Gallery). The lady was an accomplished musician who developed her talents beyond mere accomplishment and created scandal by attempting to give public performances. Mrs Delany's comment, prompted by this image, is by now well known: "I should be very sorry to have any one I loved set forth in such a manner."81 This unusual painting is remarkable enough, but Gainsborough's independence is even more exceptional when witnessed in a portrait such as Penelope, Viscountess Ligonier, painted in 1770 as a pendant to that of her husband and exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1771 (fig.46). Once again in a male cogitative posture, she grasps a pencil and appears about to copy a variety of artworks, including a female statuette and casts of an elderly male head and a putto.
Her husband, in contrast, is surprisingly depicted in commune with the natural world, leaning on his horse as he gazes off to one side (fig.47). The unusual reversal of gendered characteristics in these pendants was noted at the time by R. Baker. Whilst he described Lady Ligonier as having "a remarkably piercing eye, and sensible and polite countenance," he noted the prominence of the horse in Edward, 2nd Viscount
80 K. Stanworth, 'Historical Relations: Representing Collective Identities. Small Group Portraiture in Eighteenth-Century England, British India, and America', (unpuh. Ph.D. dissertation, Manchester, 1994), p.93 81 Autobiography and Correspondence of Mary Granville. Mrs Delany, with interesting Reminiscences of King George III and Queen Charlotte, ed. Lady Lianover, 3 Vols. (London, 1861-2), The horse, being represented as near to the spectator as the gentleman, and being a large object, and of light colour, attracts the eye as much as the gentleman does. The eye is equally divided between them: and it is to be feared that such people as effect to be witty, will say the horse is as good a
The reason for this apparent inversion of masculine and feminine roles would seem to be a slippage of the divide between 'reality' and discourse. Whilst these images were being executed, Lady Ligonier was engaged in adulterous affairs, firstly with her husband's head groom and then with Count Vittorio Alfieri, the Italian dramatist. These events culminated in an infamous divorce trial in 1771, concurrent with the display of Gainsborough's portraits at the Royal Academy.83 Whilst Ronald Paulson's suggestion that the artist may have had information concerning these affairs and thus conveyed his knowledge of the relationship in the portraits seems unlikely, a certain acquaintance with his subjects does seem to have infiltrated his work. 84 It is well known that Gainsborough was more assertive in his dealings with his sitters than his rival, Sir Joshua Reynolds, and he often imprinted his own views on commissions.