Talk: Enlightened entanglements: mistresses in 18th century art

Élisabeth Vigée Le Brun, Portrait of Madame Grand, 1783. By courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.

  • Theatre 2, Roland Levinsky Building

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From Madame de Pompadour in France, to Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire or Lady Hamilton in England, the 18th Century offers a number of iconic examples of mistresses and courtesans. Artists and writers responded eagerly to this cultural phenomenon, which saw females cast variously as ruthless social climbers or tragic heroines.

Join Dr Jenny Graham, Associate Professor in Art History at the University of Plymouth, for a lively examination of this compelling aspect of women’s history in the Age of Enlightenment. Jenny is an expert in French and British art history of the 18th and 19th Centuries, and a regular speaker at the National Gallery, London. In 2018 she appeared in A Stitch in Time for BBC Four and Civilisations Stories, also for the BBC.

Date: Tuesday 12 February
Time: 19:00–20:15
Venue: Theatre 2, Roland Levinsky Building
Ticket information: £6/£4.20/Friends free/UoP students free via SPiA

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Today's events

Robe à l’Anglaise, French school, c.1785-87. By courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.

Whigs, Powder and Paint: The 18th Century in Art, Film and Fashion Series

The 18th Century was an era of tumultuous change on both sides of the English Channel. In France, the values of the old order – the ‘aristocratic’ pursuit of luxury and pleasure – were challenged by enlightenment and revolution. In Britain, the rise of ‘polite society’ – of collecting and connoisseurship in the arts, debates about sex, gender and class, and the notion of ‘taste’ – were exploited as a means of both activating and restricting social mobility.

In this series of talks and films, curated by Dr Jenny Graham, Associate Professor in Art History at the University of Plymouth, current thinkers will revisit this fascinating period in history.


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