Strategies for Showing

Women, Possession, and Representation in English Visual Culture 1665-1800
Pointon, Marcia
Date published: 
March 1997

In this unusual and original study, Marcia Pointon examines the cultural effects and consequences of the participation by women in acts of representation in the late seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. She explores their lives and work, and a cultural environment in which images of female saints and goddesses established indices of femininity in the homes of wealthy men. Did the women portrayed also possess artefacts, and did they use the power of gifts and bequests to determine social relations? Did they themselves participate in the processes of creating images of the seen world? Pointon sets out to answer some of these questions through a series of novel and vividly recounted case studies of women such as Emma Hamilton (wife and mistress); Mary Moser, the artist; Dorothy Richardson, the antiquarian. She shows that the relationship of these women to the world of consumption was affective and imaginative as well as economic.