«A Thesis Submitted for the Degree of PhD at the University of Warwick This thesis is made available online and is ...»
This process, by which self presentation is governed by social ideals and the preconceived notions of an audience, was discussed in detail by Erving Goffman. The individual, whether consciously or automatically, constructs an appearance, a manner and a setting that will locate her or himself within a favourable stereotype. The actor can confidently exploit socially defined norms and categories in order to elicit a predictable and propitious response, obliging the audience to view her or himself accordingly. Thus, self-fashioning is deferential to the expectations of others and relies on collusion, co-operation and consensus.15 D.R. Smith utilised this approach to good effect in his analysis of seventeenth-century Dutch marital portraiture, significantly entitled Masks of Wedlock. He emphasised convention over and above biographical insight and promoted a view of representation as "not novelistic, but theatrical." He explained the homogeneity of the group of portraits under study as produced by the need to limit the particularity of the individual for the sake of the understanding of the viewer. Rather than revealing individual identities, images portray "social masks that...express ideas and values shared within a larger social order."76 Eighteenth-century family portraits thus communicated 'norms', drawn from a body of literature that espoused the companionate ideal. Therefore, together with such E. Goffman. The Presentation o/the Self in Everyday Life (1959).
especially pp.13-25. 28.32-37.44-45. quoting p.45; Brilliant. Portraiture, pp.89-90 76 D.R. Smith. Masks of Wedlock: Seventeenth-Century Dutch Marital Portraiture (Epping.
1982). p.ll. quoting p.165 texts, they can aid the study of "widely accepted roles and standards of what (was) considered to be expected and 'desirable' behaviour," rather than the realities of individual lives. 77 It was not even so much that such standards were entirely new or that real behaviour was entirely divergent. Rather, the cult of sensibility highlighted certain familial values and elevated them to a plane where their expression through pictorial form became extremely desirable. Indeed, the speed of the development of a newly affectionate and intimate ethos in family portraiture is only explicable in the context of the sudden and dramatic cultural impact of newly sentimental ideals, expressed through an ever increasing and diversifying body of literature to an ever increasing readership. In reality, change within an institution such as the family must always be hesitant; traditional ideas persisting long after new values have been proffered as alternatives. Above all, the perpetuation of roles and ideals through the childrearing process, whether through direct instruction of offspring or through the infant's awareness of parental characteristics and duties, must have proved the household resistant to new ideas.7 8 This schism between the prescribed and the practised is extremely important in terms of debates over continuity and change. If Stone's model has been dismissed as subjecting the real to the ideal, then a study of that ideal may well follow his pattern of change. And, if 'separate spheres' has been Childs. 'Prescriptions for Manners'. pp.3-4 L.J. Nicholson in Gender and History: The Limits of Social Theory in the Age of the Family (New York. 1986). pp.26-35 outlines the radical feminist theory of the family as the key purveyor and sustainer of the cultural constituents of masculinity and femininity. Radical feminists argued that the problem lay within the household where lessons were learned and children regarded their parents' behaviour. They thus sought to promote changes in consciousness rather than in legal institutions. Also see N. Chodorow, 'Being and Doing: A Cross-Cultural Examination of the Socialization of Males and Woman in Sexist Society: Studies in Power and Females'. in V. Gornick and B.K. Moran, eds..
Powerlessness The Reproduction of Mothering:
(New York. 1971). pp.173-97; N. Chodorow.
Psychoanalysis and the SOCiology of Gender (Berkeley. 1978) rejected as a concept drawn largely from fictional and prescriptive texts, then it could well remain a potential model for examining an art form that followed a parallel developmental process to those texts.
In 1975, Jay Mechling attacked the contemporary social historian's use of the interview technique in order to determine values, claiming that the result of such a practice was inevitably a fusion of the interviewee's values with those that the authority (that is, the interviewer) would be pleased by,79 This is, in many ways, analogous to what I am proposing occurred in eighteenth-century portraiture. The reaction of the authority, in this case the viewer of the painting, can be indicated to some extent through an examination of the critical response to portraits on display in exhibitions. Reviews in later eighteenth-century newspapers close the cycle of discourse, judging portraits defined by mainstream contemporary ideology according to that same ideology. Writers thus praised sitters for displaying husbandly tenderness, filial obedience, paternal kindliness or, as was most common, maternal prowess. For example. one critic in The London Chronicle in 1784 wrote approvingly of a Reynolds portrait; "the maternal feelings of the Lady towards the object of her pride and tenderness are touched with the most sensible delicacy."80 However, not only were sitters praised according to these values, but so too were artists. Another review of an exhibited painting by Reynolds not only commented on "the amiable subjects of infant innocence" but also on the sympathetic way in which they had been painted. This J. Mechling. 'Advice to Historians on Advice to Mothers'. Journal of Social History 9 (1975). p.54 The London Chronicle. 29 April - 1 May 1784 suggested "to the mind the agreeable persuasion, that his heart is as much entitled to esteem as his genius is to admiration."81 However, having established that a new sentimental and idealised ethos became apparent in the later eighteenth-century portrait, this is not to say that traditional concerns were or could be entirely superseded. Real issues such as high infant mortality rates rendered preoccupation with familial dynasty and succession unavoidable. Children were certainly increasingly appreciated as playful, infantile and nurtured, but their importance to the family and, indeed, to society as a whole, was an inescapable fact. The heightened values of intimacy and affection may have come to dominate compositions and narratives, but patriarchy still underlay the household and hierarchical structures of age and gender remained apparent throughout the century.
Thus, as Naomi Tadmor has shown, the hierarchical and genealogical on the one hand and the companionate and affective on the other were neither incompatible nor temporally progressive. Rather, as her analysis of novels reveals, former concerns necessarily persisted alongside a burgeoning interest in the latter. 82 * * * * * This dissertation will take various aspects of familial relations and their pictorial representation in tum in order to shed light on these broader issues. Chapters one and two analyse eighteenth-century portraits of husbands and wives in the context 81 Courtauld Institute Press Cuttings, VoU (1731-1811), p.38. The name of the newspaper is unidentified and the date only given as May 1783.
82 N. Tadmor, 'Concepts of the Family in five Eighteenth-Century Texts' (unpub. Ph.D. thesis, Cambridge, 1992), chapters 6 and 7; Tadmor, 'Dimensions of Inequality among Siblings', especially pp. 304-18; Tadmor, "Family' and 'Friend' in Pamela', p.305 of developments in the vast body of prescriptive and fictional literature that dealt with the ideal marital union, with its instigators, its motivations and its inherent qualities.
The first chapter examines the emergence of the companionate marriage portrait and assesses the forms and narratives that developed and came to characterise the genre in the mid decades of the eighteenth century. In order to demarcate this ideal more clearly, representations of the antithetically constructed and condemned alternatives of the arranged, commercial marriage and the union based on lust and romantic love are also discussed. The second chapter develops the analysis of the companionate marriage in terms of debates over whether it· represented a new equality between husbands and wives or whether it constituted a new version of an abiding patriarchy.
It argues that, through the pictorial demarcation of masculine and feminine domains, domains which are complementary and mutually reliant but always inherently unequal, the dominance of the husband and the ultimate authority of his masculine and rational character remained constant.
Chapters three and four focus on representations of parents and children, again seeking to evidence the coupling of a new affective ideal with persistent and more traditional values. Chapter three examines transitions in the depicted relationship between mothers and their children, resulting in increasingly sentimentalised and intimate portraits as the century progressed. Again, it is shown that this process of glorification mirrored developments in mainstream contemporary discourse, lauding a newly idealised mother, sensitive to her maternal instinct and capable of educating her children. It is also argued that this new pictorial ethos had the additional benefit of helping to negate the inherent act of display in female portraiture. Women came to be shown as entirely absorbed in their children, obscuring their own features and uninterested in the gaze of the viewer. Mitigating this developmental argument, chapter four shows that, whilst portraits increasingly showed the father as similarly engaged and involved with the larger family group, he retained his role as the supervisory head of the household. It also seeks to temper claims that children came to be "loved for themselves as much as for the contributions they could make to the family's power and influence."83 Rather, it demonstrates that offspring were consistently demarcated according to age and gender and that a concern with their future contribution to the family as mature members was a persistent theme.
Extending the theme of chapter four, chapter five considers claims that 'traditional' concerns of lineage and familial continuity were supplanted by a new affective individualism. First, it shows that a pictorial emphasis on the eldest son, on whom the direct transmission of name, wealth and property depended, persisted throughout the century, despite the increasing intimacy of the family group. Second, family portraits are examined in the context of the demographic crisis of the early 1700s and, more generally, concerns with the fragility of children. These persisted well into the later decades of the century and reveal an abiding preoccupation with genealogical continuation. The chapter finally considers such images within the wider context of the country house, demonstrating that the hanging and cross-referencing of images within this context of power and display contained explicit messages of lineage.
The final chapter examines visual attacks on individuals who transgressed the bounds of these established ideals, attacks that classified them as aberrant and thereby helped to define the norm. This analysis is particularly apt in light of claims that promulgations of the private domestic female, solely concerned with the home and 83 Lewis. In the Family Way, p.58 children, were a reaction to increasing fluidity in gender roles and relations, "a cry from an embattled status quo, rather than the leading edge of change."84 It focuses on a number of case-studies of members of the bon ton who were not only pictorially criticised for their immoral behaviour, but who proceeded to turn models of the ideal and counter models of the perverted full circle. They re-asserted their social probity through the medium of portraiture, countering such satire with displays of status and virtue on the walls of the Royal Academy. Criminal conversation cases and the numerous pamphlets and engravings they spawned were thus followed by formal and grandiose society family portraits to reaffirm the domestic virtue of those in whom it had been questioned. Women accused of neglecting offspring in favour of unsuitably public activities similarly exploited the genre to reaffirm their maternal devotion. The dissertation concludes with a summary of the issues and arguments and develops a theme which is implicit throughout: that of the implication of such a discussion for issues of class in the eighteenth century.
84 Vickery. The Gentleman's Daughter, p.7. See also L. Colley. Britons: Forging the Nation 1707-1837 (New Haven and London. 1992), p.250
Marital portraiture underwent a clear transition during the mid decades of the eighteenth century. To rehearse Desmond Shawe-Taylor's examples, the figures of Mr and Mrs Andrews as painted by Thomas Gainsborough in the late 1740s (fig.3) demonstrate minimal physical and inferred psychological intimacy. They are stiffly posed for the benefit of the viewer and any narrative has occurred prior to the sitting, the dog, gun and partially painted pheasant indicating a successful shooting expedition. This theme indicates the painting's celebration of property ownership as only wealthier men, possessing land worth more than £100 a year if owned with freehold, or £150 if with leasehold, were permitted to hunt game. 1 The emphasis on material assets is reinforced by the cultivated land that occupies almost half the pictorial space and the rigid lines of com that reveal Mr Andrews to be a progressive farmer in proud possession of a seed drill. In contrast, Mr and Mrs Hallett, painted by the same artist nearly forty years later (fig.4), have an entirely different relationship with the surrounding countryside. Instead of rigid poses directed towards the perceived viewer, they are engaged with the landscape, both through the narrative of a morning stroll and the aesthetic unity of coloration and pictorial form. The background is diminished in scale in order to allow the viewer to concentrate on the relationship of the sitters who, in tum, seem unaware of an outside presence. Instead, Mr Hallett gestures with his hat towards some unseen point of interest whilst his wife, s. Deuchar, Sporting Art in Eighteenth-Century England: A Social and Political History (New Haven and London, 1988), p.5 hand tucked through his arm in a companionate pose, looks interestedly in the same