Maisel Gallery of European Art
This installation of European paintings, sculpture and decorative arts examines the manner in which artists from the Seventeenth to the Twentieth Centuries (1600 – 1900) addressed societal issues, in particularly female and male roles in society. Today in academic circles gender studies have become popular. This presentation echoes that approach. While all of the artists shown here are in fact probably male, but in their careers they became known for certain subjects which addressed male and female issues. Just that fact should give one pause, but of course there were well recognized women artists and writers active in these 400 years. While the techniques and subjects they chose were similar, there were important subtle differences which may be gender based, certainly they are part of their life story as women active in a male dominated world.
The gallery is organized in four sections:
- The Active life (male)
- Contemplative life (female)
- Spiritual (male and female)
- Children (male and female)
Society determined certain gender roles: men fought battles, became conquerors, explored new worlds, went to sea and decided matters of state; women focused on matters of the heart, fashion, the home, gardens, the well ordered life of manners, conversation and children. Together they enjoyed religion and the family. To better appreciate today’s redefinition of gender roles, it is valuable to be aware of earlier conventions and constraints.