The Painted Face

The Painted Face Cover

The Painted Face

Portraits of Women in France 1814-1914

By Tamar Garb

Yale University Press, Hardcover, 9780300111187, 276pp.

Publication Date: September 26, 2007

The meaning of a painted portrait and even its subject may be far more complex than expected, Tamar Garb reveals in this book. She charts for the first time the history of French female portraiture from its heyday in the early nineteenth century to its demise in the early twentieth century, showing how these paintings illuminate evolving social attitudes and aesthetic concerns in France over the course of the century.The author builds the discussion around six canonic works by Ingres, Manet, Cassatt, Cezanne, Picasso, and Matisse, beginning with Ingres's idealized portrait of Mme de Sennones and ending with Matisse's elegiac last portrait of his wife. During the hundred years that separate these works, the female portrait went from being the ideal genre for the expression of painting's capacity to describe and embellish nature, to the prime locus of its refusal to do so. Picasso's Cubism, and specifically "Ma Jolie," provides the fulcrum of this shift.

About the Author
Tamar Garb is Durning Lawrence Professor in the History of Art, and head of the History of Art History department at University College London. She has written widely on portraiture and the body in nineteenth century art and visual culture, on contemporary art and on issues of race and representation. Key publications include Bodies of Modernity: Figure and Flesh in Fin de Siecle France (1994) and The Painted Face: Portraits of Women in France 1814 - 1914 (2007). She was curator in 2008 of the exhibition Land Marks/ Home Lands: Contemporary Art from South Africa at the Haunch of Venison Gallery and of Gauguin: Maker of Myth at Tate Modern (2010) and The National Gallery of Art, Washington.