UCL News


UCL Bookshelf: 'The Painted Face: Portraits of Women in France 1814-1914'

9 July 2007

Tamar Garb, Durning Lawrence Professor of Art History at UCL, has publisheda book on the history of female portraiture in France.

Painted Face

'The Painted Face: Portraits of Women in France 1814-1914' focuses on the
painting of female sitters, putting paintings of the period into historical
and critical perspectives. A core theme of the book is that of make-up - the
adornment of skin is seen as analogous to painting.

'The Painted Face' focuses on a series of six seminal female portraits that
span the century, by Ingres, Manet, Cassat, Cezanne, Picasso and Matisse.

From the sumptuous and mysterious portrait 'Madame de Senonnes' by Ingres,
with its rich and sensual textures, through to Matisse's muted last portrait
of his wife, Tamar Garb tells the stories that circulated around each of the
paintings - their inception, their reception by critics and public and their
influence on other paintings.

The personal narratives that surround each portrait - the family
bereavements that haunt Mary Cassat's last painting of her mother 'Mrs R. S.
Cassat' or the tale of a love affair between a wealthy aristocrat and a
'bourgois' behind 'Madame de Senonnes' - serve to illustrate the social
elements influencing female portraiture.

From the idealized depiction of womanhood seen in Ingres, to the
fragmentation and destabilization of the female subject found in artists
such as Picasso and Matisse, 'The Painted Face' reflects the profound shifts
in how women were portrayed in painting through the course of the century.

To find out more about the book, or to find out about Professor Garb, use
the links at the bottom of the article.