Gender and Style in the Circle of James McNeill Whistler

de Montfort, P. (2016) Gender and Style in the Circle of James McNeill Whistler. Anxious Forms: Masculinities in Crisis in the Long Nineteenth Century, Glasgow, UK, 28 Oct 2016. (Unpublished)

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The period 1877-80 marked an auspicious moment in the careers of the American painter and etcher James McNeill Whistler, the painter of portraits and interiors, Louise Jopling, and Oscar Wilde when all three became Chelsea residents and regular dining companions. In 1877, Whistler had just completed an extravagant new decorative scheme for Frederick Richards Leyland, his patron of several years standing although he was about engulf himself in a libel case against Ruskin that led to his bankruptcy; Jopling was experiencing increasing success at the Royal Academy as a fashionable portrait painter, aided by patrons like the Rothschilds; Wilde, soon to graduate after a distinguished career at Oxford, was eager to launch himself on London society as a poet, aesthete and aspiring professional man of letters. Styles of masculinity – the dandy, the bohemian, the Romantic outsider, the specialist professional – were integral to the self-commodifying strategies that they employed in the pursuit of success in a competitive 19th century market-place. They adopted distinctive modes of dress and interior decoration, evolved a lexicon of visual branding around their cultural goods; their views on art and decoration became sought after and circulated via press syndication and staged performance. But new readings of masculine styles (and readings of styles of femininity such as the New Woman) required settings that resonated with modern urban life and celebrity culture. This invited interrogation of existing settings for social networking and display that were largely defined via a masculinised currency. It also required a flexible approach to gender identity. This paper examined intersections in the gendered styles of Whistler, Jopling and Wilde during the late 1870s and 80s and how these relations were formulated.

Item Type:Conference or Workshop Item
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:de Montfort, Dr Patricia
Authors: de Montfort, P.
Subjects:N Fine Arts > N Visual arts (General) For photography, see TR
N Fine Arts > ND Painting
N Fine Arts > NX Arts in general
P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General)
P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General) > PN0441 Literary History
College/School:College of Arts > School of Culture and Creative Arts > History of Art

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