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Celebrity Erotics: Pepys, Performance, and Painted Ladies

From: The Yale Journal of Criticism
Volume 16, Number 1, Spring 2003
pp. 211-230 | 10.1353/yale.2003.0010


From the medieval to the early modern period, funeral effigies-- images of deceased monarchs sculpted from wood or wax and dressed in their own clothes--accompanied the corpses of English kings. Although this quaint performance lapsed with the burial of Charles II, other methods of circulating personal images in the absence of the persons themselves proliferated during his reign. The diarist Samuel Pepys records the erotic dimensions of the experience of this early development of celebrity in the modern sense. He remarks on the appropriation of religious icons in so-called "role portraits" of fashionable women, on the increasing availability of these and other popular images as prints, and on the emergence of actors and actresses as living effigies.

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