Saturday, February 2, 2008

Chapter 3 - Pioneer Women sculpture attributes #2

Let's face it. Women in the late 19th and early 20th Century sculpture were frequently a bunch of hussies.

Even angels, easily identified by their wings, on occasion sported the bodies of naked women. Donning a breast plate seemed to actually accentuate the woman's "charms" rather than covering them up.

That these works were largely created by male artists certainly (one of the many words and/or phrases that is used to mean that you are about to read my opinion) surely accounts for much of this. In an era when a "well turned ankle" was considered a bit saucy and a "shapely calf" could drive men wild, when even table legs could not be discussed in polite or mixed company because of the obvious connotation, the art world was one of the few places where the scantily clad, (or less) figure, almost always of women, was considered to be acceptable.

However all that changed when the figure involved was that of the art patron's mother or grand mother. Suddenly modesty in look, dress and demure became the order of the day and provides us with our first attribute. Dress.

It started at the top with usually a bonnet, occasionally a scarf or shawl, but almost always something. Under these outfits the nipple, a standard feature in many previous female figures, completely disappears, despite the fact that the outfits are on occasion quite form fitting.

Dresses are long, flowing and usually extend all the way to the next attribute, a good pair of solid, sensible boots.

There is more research to be done on all of these, but by including a LARGE BOOK, both the important issues of Christianity and literacy were addressed.

A significant attribute, frequently employed was the rifle, suggesting that the Pioneer Women took an active role in the defense of the homestead. More will be said about this down the line in a blog called "Rifles -the male tool, or just a tool?".

This is in no way a complete list of the attributes that identify Pioneer Woman. However it is a start.

Children (mostly sons, at least as the oldest child, when gender can be determined)
long dresses
modesty in look, dress and demure

(to be cont.)

1 comment:

Twila said...

I must say, what you are doing is incredibly fascinating! In my art history education, we didn't get a lot of "American" art, so I will definitely be keeping tabs on you as well! (Plus I will give you my opinion, which I am quite eager about doing - especially about art. I don't get too much of that going to a technical school and hanging out with programmers 24/7.)
BTW - I'm not positive how commenting works on blogger yet. But I replied to you on the comments you left on my blog. I didn't think this would be such a learning experience. =)