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Title: Local Color: Race, Gender and Spanishness in French and Spanish Painting, 1855-1927
Authors: Haddon, Madeleine
Advisors: Alsdorf, Bridget
Contributors: Art and Archaeology Department
Keywords: color
Subjects: Art history
Issue Date: 2021
Publisher: Princeton, NJ : Princeton University
Abstract: Beginning in the 1850s, “Spanishness” became a popular subject in both French and Spanish painting, often embodied in the figure of the Spanish woman. Artists such as Gustave Courbet, Édouard Manet, John Singer Sargent, Henri Matisse, Francisco Iturrino, and José Gutierrez Solana strived to capture their period’s notions of Spanishness through paint and color. What did Spanishness mean for these artists, and for their viewers? This dissertation examines the meanings, interpretations, and imagery of Spanishness in mid-nineteenth- to early twentieth-century French and Spanish painting, and contends that Spanishness was a significant subject because of the racial ambiguities fundamental to its definition. As a fluid, malleable, and color-based medium, paint was an apt vehicle for articulating the perceived messiness of Spain’s racial identity. With the expansive possibilities of its palette, painting was capable of visualizing and interrogating the problematic concepts around race and national identity that fascinated nineteenth-century artists, writers, and intellectuals. In paintings by both French and Spanish artists, Spain is treated as an intermediary space where Europe ends and Africa begins. Artists’ attraction to Spanishness was tied to their fascination with, confusion about, and anxiety towards the slipperiness of Spain’s racial identity during a period in which modern ideas of race were beginning to take shape. The visual language of Spanishness found in the paintings studied throughout this dissertation has had a lasting influence on the ways we consider Spain, and race more broadly, today. Nineteenth-century French artists and viewers were enthralled by Spaniards not only as exotic fantasies of the “other,” but also as people who threatened established notions of European identity. Spanish artists responded to these perceptions most forcefully through paintings that reflected their own ideas about the racial makeup of Spanishness. For both, Spanish women became icons of the racial ambiguity of Spanishness and Spain’s deviation from European whiteness.
Alternate format: The Mudd Manuscript Library retains one bound copy of each dissertation. Search for these copies in the library's main catalog:
Type of Material: Academic dissertations (Ph.D.)
Language: en
Appears in Collections:Art and Archaeology

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