Eva/Ave: Woman in Renaissance and Baroque Prints

H. Diane Russell, Author, National Gallery of Art, Other National Gallery of Art $49.95 (238p) ISBN 978-0-89468-157-8
In her excellent introduction to this catalogue for an exhibition of old master prints at the National Gallery of Art, Russell writes that these pieces show ``some of the guises, good and bad, in which woman was represented by male artists'' from about 1460 to the late 17th century. Russell, a curator at the National Gallery, touches upon various topics relating to the portrayal of women during this period: chastity as social necessity; the choice between marriage and convent; the inherent (male) power of the visual image. Grouped by subject matter, the prints portray Eve, Venus, and the Virgin and saints. A section on heroines includes the biblical Judith, who decapitated Holofernes. In one print, Judith, fully clothed, is depicted as powerful and virtuous; in another by the same artist, she is eroticized by her nakedness. The chapter on lovers offers a series of ``ill-assorted'' couples--one young woman with an old man is shown with her hand open, ``demanding money before she will grant sexual favors.'' This book provides a thoughtful feminist reading of a genre of art--and a period of art history--unabashedly committed to the subjugation of the female sex. Barnes is a freelance writer. (May)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1990
Release date: 01/01/1990
Paperback - 238 pages - 978-1-55861-040-8
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