«A Thesis Submitted for the Degree of PhD at the University of Warwick This thesis is made available online and is ...»
This dissertation opened with an outline of the progression from codified, formal expressions of domestic virtue in early eighteenth-century conversation pieces, such as Bartholomew Dandridge's portrait of the d' Albiac family in Hungerford Park (fig. I), to newly direct formulations of that virtue in later images such as Zoffany's John, 3 rd Duke of Atholl and his Family (fig.2). The various elements to this transition have been outlined. Family members came to be portrayed in close physical proximity. Wives began to be shown linking arms with their husbands and mothers as closely embracing the babies on their laps. Rather than posing formally for the benefit of the viewer, merely indicating familial relationships by a token wave of the hand, sitters came to ignore the existence of an external gaze. As early eighteenth-century codes of polite posture and gesture were increasingly modified, this apparent unawareness of the act of display redefined the portrait as an honest vista onto uncontrived and admirable affection. Second, family members were increasingly united in mutual narratives. The later eighteenth-century convention of picturing couples strolling through landscapes, the husband motioning towards some point of interest for the delight and enlightenment of his wife, dominated the genres of both provincial artists such as Devis and society portraitists such as Reynolds and Gainsborough.
Similarly, their play moved beyond the mere presentation of some toy or game and came to define both their individual representations and their relationships with their parents.
This pictorial transition has to be conceived as flexible, subject to variables including class, social and cultural climate and geography. Progressive artists such as William Hogarth, working in the capital, produced portraits in the newly companionate milieu in the 1750s whilst provincial painters such as Arthur Devis, seemingly resistant to change, persisted in representing their sitters in formal and stiffly posed compositions. Members of the provincial gentry were less likely than the metropolitan bourgeoisie to abandon conventions that emphasised their material and moral standing. Equally, commissions were constrained by time, money, opportunity and available wall space. l However, despite these mitigating factors and inevitable vagaries, the pictorial shift, as outlined throughout the thesis, begs examination in the context of debates over continuity and change that have dominated the historiography of the family for some decades.
The pictorial has hardly entered into such discussions. Its inclusion in Phillipe Aries's narrative of transition prompted such a wave of criticism that his successors have been inevitably reluctant to draw on such sources. 2 Together with novels, poems and plays, paintings and engravings have been viewed as "soft facts", as subordinate L. Iordanova, 'New Worlds for Children in the Eighteenth Century: Problems of Historical Interpretation' History of the Human Sciences 3,1 (February 1990), pp.75-6. In Oliver Goldsmith, The Vicar of Wakefield (1766), ed. C. Coote (Harmondsworth, 1986), p.99, the Vicar's family, when choosing a format for their portraits, select a single canvas as "this would be cheaper, since one frame would serve for all." However, the commission ends in social embarrassment when the family's vanity has swelled the image to such an extent that it cannot be hung anywhere in their humble abode.
P. Aries, Centuries of Childhood (1960), transl. R. Baldick (Harmondsworth, 1962); A.
Burton, 'Looking forward from Aries? Pictorial and Material Evidence for the History of Childhood and Family Life' Continuity and Change 4, 2 (1989), pp.203-229; A. Wilson, 'The Infancy of the History of Childhood: An Appraisal of Philippe Aries' History and Theory 19 (1980), pp.l32-53 to more properly 'historical' sources to be found in the archive. However, as Naomi Tadmor has shown in her work on eighteenth-century fiction, such material
methodological underpinning, can contribute to such discussions) 'New art history' has emphasised that the pictorial must be reconnected with its social, cultural, economic and political context. However, much recent writing on family portraiture has failed to take proper account of other sources available from the period, to theorise their relationship with the paintings under discussion and thus to engage with the debates of the historians. This dissertation has attempted to do that, and the necessary next step would be to test and modify its conclusions within the terms of eighteenthcentury aesthetic debates, the developing market for art, technological advances and institutional changes.
Pictorial evidence has suggested that Lawrence Stone's developmental thesis has been too swiftly rejected by those keen to smooth out all change in the course of domestic history.4 Whilst his seminal text, The Family, Sex and Marriage in England, 1500-1800, was rightly criticised for compounding various sources, ranging from personal letters and diaries on the one hand to prescriptive, fictional and pictorial N. Tadmor, "Family' and 'Friend' in Pamela: A Case-Study in the History of the Family in Eighteenth-Century England' Social History 14 (1989), p.289; N. Tadmor, 'Concepts of the Family in five Eighteenth-Century Texts' (unpub. Ph.D. thesis, Cambridge, 1992), especially chapters 6 and 7; N.
Tadmor, 'Dimensions of Inequality among Siblings in Eighteenth-Century English Novels: The Cases of Clarissa and The History of Miss Betsy Thoughtless' Continuity and Change 7,3 (1992), pp.303London, 1977); A.
L. Stone, The Family, Sex and Marriage in England, 1500-1800 Macfarlane, Marriage and Love in England 1300-1840 (Oxford, 1986); A. Macfarlane, The Family Life of Ralph Josselin, a seventeenth-century clergyman: An Essay in Historical Anthropology (Cambridge, 1970); A. Macfarlane, The Origins of English Individualism: The Family, Property and Social Transition (Oxford, 1978) material on the other, it is precisely this elision that indicates the degree of validity in his argument. s Historians such as Keith Wrightson have shown that actual lives and relationships were infinitely varied, governed by a host of factors.6 In contrast, the prescriptive and fictional literature that discussed the ways in which such lives and relationships should ideally be lived was dominated by a coherent discourse. This concord was noted by Mary Wollstonecraft at the end of the period: "I do not mean to allude to all the writers who have written on the subject of female manners - it would, in fact, be only beating over the old ground, for they have, in general, written in the same strain."7 This is not to deny that there were other messages available in printed form or to ignore the fact that certain issues were highly contentious. For example, whilst the problem of inadequate provision for female education was widely acknowledged, solutions ranged from an improved system that would provide women with the skills and knowledge required to fulfil adequately the duties of wives and mothers to a school curriculum that included Latin, hardly necessary for such roles. 8 However, many of these texts were linked by a coherent rhetorical strain, a strain of considerable persistence. Certain arguments can be traced from the Marquess of Halifax in the later seventeenth century, through writers such as Richard Steele and For criticism of Stone, see A. Macfarlane, "'The Family, Sex and Marriage in England 1500S 1800" by Lawrence Stone' 18 (1979), pp.103-26; E.P. Thompson, 'Happy History and Theory Families: Lawrence Stone ''The Family, Sex and Marriage in England 1500-1800'" New Society 41 (8 September 1977), pp.499-501; l.W. Scott 'The History of the Family as an Affective Unit' Social History 4.3 (1979). pp.509-16 K. Wrightson. English Society 1580-1680 (London, 1993) M. Wollstonecraft, 'A Vindication of the Rights of Women' (1792), in J. Todd, ed.. Mary Wollstonecraft: Political Writings (Oxford, 1994), p.175 See chapter I, pp.64-5, chapter 2, p.92 Joseph Addison in the early 17oos, to later eighteenth-century texts by authors including Thomas Gisborne and Hannah More.
Thus, whilst The Family, Sex and Marriage's model of change is of limited value in analysing actual familial relationships, I would argue that it is useful in discussions of shifts in literary ideals. Similarly, whilst historians have rightly criticised the concept of 'separate spheres' as privileging the ideal over the real, as obscuring the details of particular lives, it remains useful in analyses of that ideal and changes within it. Developments in the area of the prescriptive and fictional should be formulated circumspectly, particularly as Kathleen M. Davies's work on advice literature of the early modem period has emphasised the apparent continuities. 9 For example, seventeenth-century authors, like their successors, attacked marriages purely aimed at material gain and rarely condoned parents who forced their children into unions designed to advance their own social standing. Similarly, the doctrine of mutuality, advising women to obey and follow their husbands' commands in return for loving and kind treatment, was pervasive throughout the prescriptive tradition.
However, this acknowledged, certain developments did occur in the ideological realm in the eighteenth century. The chief stimulus to change came from a cultural phenomenon that was wider than the family, but critical for the re-evaluation of domestic ideals. The cult of sensibility gripped the imagination of the nation from the 1740s onwards and the public pored over novels in which heroines were overcome with emotion, men communed with nature, both wept copiously and empathy and compassion were all. This movement emphasised and developed extant ideals of marriage and parenthood. Exhortations of patriarchy became muted and rationalised K.M. Davies, 'Continuity and Change in Literary Advice on Marriage' in R.B. Outhwaite, ed., Marriage and Society: Studies in the Social History of Marriage (London, 1981), pp.58-80 with recourse to custom, Nature and God. Many came to laud and applaud the female character and some even came to present the virtues of women as superior to those of men. Mutuality was regarded in a new light. The husband's affection for and tender treatment of his spouse was emphasised and authors began to posit his public and professional reputation as reliant upon his behaviour within the home. Equally. whilst the wife's duty to obey and respect her husband was still central to such texts, it was redefined as voluntary and as a pleasure. It came to be claimed that a woman could soften, mollify and even possibly govern her husband through her sentient, emotional and natural character. It was argued that the couple's views and ambitions were ideally united towards the same goals and that the patriarch would therefore rarely have to exert his authority.
The role of the mother was similarly sentimentalised and elevated. Writers composed lyrical passages on the pleasures of maternity, both for the woman herself and for those privilege to witness scenes of breastfeeding and maternal care. As with discourses of marriage, religious models and exhortations became less frequent and standards derived from nature were instituted, both with reference to the birds and the beasts as well as to 'primitive' societies, either temporally or spatially removed.
Significant developments also occurred in conceptions of the nature of childhood. the processes of educational development and the role of the parent. Lockean thought dominated the eighteenth century and, whilst many scholars have emphasised the work of Rousseau in the 1760s as new and radical, he rather popularised and rendered fashionable the ideals established by his predecessor. lO Both emphasised indulgence of the unique characteristics of infants and the elevated standard of Nature. Both
argued that, with only limited guidance and gentle steering, children would develop naturally into mentally and physically healthy individuals. However, Locke's emphasis on sensational psychology and the impressionable nature of the juvenile mind rendered both parents and writers of child literature acutely conscious of the importance of socialisation and thus of their roles in the maturing process.
Domestic ideals were also more widely disseminated in the mid and later decades of the eighteenth century than ever before. New literary genres developed, notably the periodical and the novel, which advocated the ideals of the companionate marriage and sentimental parenthood in a variety of ways. The dictums of the conduct writers were translated into the characters of fictional heroes and heroines whilst the publication of 'readers" letters in the periodical suggested their diffusion throughout society. Such texts were increasingly accessible in both financial and physical terms.
The publication of novels in parts, the loaning of books through circulating libraries and the proliferation of cheap copies were critical developments in the mid eighteenth century. Similarly, a dramatic increase in literacy rates meant that more were capable of being influenced by the written word and the development of polite society in the coffee houses and clubs facilitated its discussion. Even those outside the main body of the devoted reading public would have been privy to such conversation and read to by others.
It is these developments that were, to a considerable degree, responsible for the formulation of new narrative devices and compositional forms in portraiture. The relationship between the actual, the ideal and the pictorial is highly complex and can, at best, be formulated schematically. The effect that such texts had on people's lives is hard to define. Diaries and letters suggest a partial response. Individuals selected texts that accorded with their own previously held convictions, that were recommended to them by family or friends or that, like Rousseau's Emile, dominated polite conversation and attained fashionable status. ll Similarly, critical faculties would have been exercised in the reading of those texts. Some ideas would have been embraced wholeheartedly, others rejected out of hand. And, even when ideas and theories appealed, it is difficult to ascertain whether that appeal was purely cerebral or whether it affected daily domestic behaviour.
However, it would be reasonable to suggest that the newly sentimental ideals