In this major book, Linda Nochlin brings a lifetimes reflection and analysis to bear on a topic of enduring fascination, and presents the reader with new material, new ideas and new ways of looking, offering a refreshing perspective on an emotive subject mapped out in the literary canon by the likes of Charles Dickens and Victor Hugo.
The coming of the Industrial Revolution in the early nineteenth century witnessed the unprecedented changes in society: rapid economic growth and urbanization went hand-in-hand with appalling working conditions, displacement, squalor and destitution for those at the bottom of the social scale.
These new circumstances presented a challenge to contemporary image-makers, who wished to capture the effects of hunger, poverty and alienation in Britain, Ireland and France in the era before documentary photography.
, the eminent art historian Linda Nochlin examines the styles and expressive strategies that were used by artists and illustrators to capture this desolation, roughly characterized as the poverty that afflicts both body and soul.
The artists desire to depict the poor and the outcast accurately and convincingly is still a pertinent issue, though now, as Nochlin observes, the question has a moral and ethical dimension does the documentary style belittle its subjects and degrade their condition?
From the popular depictions of the Irish Famine between 1846-51 and the gendered representation of misery, particularly of poor women and prostitutes, to the fine art of Théodore Géricault, Gustave Courbet and Ferndad Pelez, the centuries-old pain is prevalent on the pages of this groundbreaking book.
Linda Nochlin (1931-2017) is widely respected as a pioneering art historian. She was Lila Acheson Wallace Professor Emerita of Modern Art at New York University Institute of Fine Arts and was a winner of the Moore College of Art & Designs Visionary Woman Award.
She wrote extensively on issues of gender in art history and on nineteenth-century Realism. Her numerous publications include Women, Art and Power, Representing Women and Courbet, as well as the revolutionary essay from 1971: Why Have There Been No Great Women Artists?