Moved by Love: Inspired Artists and Deviant Women in Eighteenth-Century France

Moved by Love: Inspired Artists and Deviant Women in Eighteenth-Century France

by Mary D Sheriff


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In eighteenth-century France, the ability to “lose oneself” in a character or scene marked both great artists and ideal spectators. Yet it was also thought this same passionate enthusiasm, if taken to unreasonable extremes, could lead to sexual deviance, mental illness, and even death. Women and artists were seen as especially susceptible to these negative consequences of creative enthusiasm—and women artists doubly so.

Mary D. Sheriff uses these very different visions of artistic enthusiasm to explore the complex interrelationships among creativity, sexuality, the body, and the mind in eighteenth-century France. Drawing on evidence from the visual arts, literature, philosophy, and medicine, she scrutinizes the different forms of deviance ascribed to male and female artists. Sheriff also demonstrates that the perceived connections among sexuality, creativity, and disease also opened artistic opportunities for women—and creative women took full advantage of them.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780226752884
Publisher: University of Chicago Press
Publication date: 12/15/2008
Edition description: 1
Pages: 320
Product dimensions: 7.00(w) x 9.90(h) x 0.90(d)

About the Author

Mary D. Sheriff is the W.R. Kenan, Jr. Distinguished Professor of Art and department chair at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She is the author of The Exceptional Woman: Elisabeth Vigée-Lebrunand theCultural Politics of Art and Fragonard: Art and Eroticism, both published by the University of Chicago Press.

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations

CHAPTER 1 Enthusiasm: Reason's Masterpiece

CHAPTER 2 The Artist and the Woman
Part 1: Just Like a Woman?
Part 2: Possession and Emulation

CHAPTER 3 Deviant Spectators: Ignorant Girls and Women Who Know Too Much

CHAPTER 4 Pygmalion's Enthusiasm and the Fires of Nymphomania, or The Psychology of Art and Desire

CHAPTER 5 The Model Pygmalion and the Artist Galatea
Part 1: A Model for the Artist
Part 2: Playing Galatea

CHAPTER 6 Inspired by Heloise

Conclusion: Closing the Circle, Opening the End


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