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Reviews209 creating a "separate but equal" history of art for women artists (since that might have no effect on changing the framework of the discipline itself), and we need to do more than simply reverse the facts ("there were women Pre-Raphaelites whose work was good"), die recuperation of the forgotten struggles of women artists is indeed important work. Jan Marsh and Pamela Gerrish Nunn, both of whom have written prolifically and informatively about women artists in die past, contributed essays to this catalogue. Nunn's essay looks at the way in which the Pre-Raphaelite style, with its emphasis on direct study from nature, offered ambitious women artists an alternative to the academic style which could only be learned at die Royal Academy Schools (from which women were, for most of die century, barred). Nunn perceptively asks, "within Pre-Raphaelitism, surely the female artist could try her hand without a Classical education, without a training in anatomy, without unlimited access to scenes of modern life? Within preRaphaelitism , surely those things she was told were her own especial strengths and concerns — sentiment, a feeling for nature, piety, neatness — would be adequate equipment for the journey to the height of Art?" (56). Scholarship by feminist art historians (as Warner's introduction demonstrates), is still being dismissed as separate and unequal because it is perceived as "sociological" by those who see themselves as having a purely aesthetic approach (as Warner does). No one looking at die cover illustration of the Pre-Raphaelite Women Artists catalogue however, with its reproduction of Jane Benham Hay's remarkable painting England and Italy, will believe that the reason for the omission of women artists from the history Pre-Raphaelitism and Victorian art history generally has anything to do witii the fallacious issue of quality. BETH HARRIS State University ofNew York Fashion Institute of Technology Trev Broughton and Ruth Symes (eds.). The Governess: An Anthology. New York: St. Martin's P, 1997. ? + 214. $45.00 US (cloth). Blanche Ingram speaks for many twentieth-century scholars when, part-way through Jane Eyre, she enlarges on the "chapter of governesses" and then dismisses these female educators as "half . . . detestable and the rest ridiculous" (Brontë 205-7). Moderate die 210Victorian Review derisive tone, and Blanche anticipates critics like G.M. Trevelyan and Elie Halévy, who regard these women and their profession as having had no more impact on English education than Blanche's own persecuted mentors exerted on their unpleasant pupil (Trevelyan 58; Halévy 500-1). Blanche predicts, too, the kind of classificatory options Alice Renton puts readers in her title Tyrant or Victim? A History of the British Governess. Renton's question has generally been decided by authorities in favor of "victim." In her biography of Charlotte Brontë, for example, Margot Peters argues governesses were isolated, powerless, and exploited (67-73). That the "victim" status is almost reflexively allotted to governesses today is due primarily to three factors: (1) Charlotte Bronte's negative public relations work with regard to the profession, carried on by Elizabeth Gaskell after her death; (2) propaganda literature published in the 1840s and '50s, much of it· in connection with Governesses' Benevolent Institution's charitable fundraising, and (3) Mary Poovey's 1988 study, "The Anathematized Race," reprinted in Uneven Developments. Each of these three sources is problematic, however. Propaganda literature, naturally, we suspect of bias when it presents victims' woes. But Bronte's opinions, Gaskell's and Poovey's — aren't they reliable informers of our own? Maybe not. Bronte's only substantive experience with routine homeschooling amounted to nine months spent with the White family in Yorkshire, where her charges were so young that her job was really a nanny's; otherwise, her work as an educator was either as a summertime stopgap nanny, or, at Roe Head, Heald's House and the Hegers' establishment in Brussels, as a schoolteacher. Further, Brontë never, apparently, cared much for young children. Bronte's friend and biographer, Gaskell, reproduced her subject's scathing accounts of governessing uncritically. Consequently, her own popular and influential Life of Charlotte Brontë aired the celebrity writer's disgruntlement with her one-time profession as if her recollections represented unbiased reportage...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1923-3280
Print ISSN
0848-1512
Pages
pp. 209-212
Launched on MUSE
2015-10-07
Open Access
No
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