Christine de Pizan

Christine de Pizan
The Writer Christine de Pizan at Her Desk

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Mary Katharine Goddard, Publisher, Printer, and Patriot

Mary Katharine Goddard (born 16 June 1738)

To be absolutely honest, I never enjoyed studying the American Revolutionary War when I was in elementary school--that was so long ago that the story about the revolution was all George Washington chopping down a cherry tree and throwing coins across the Potomac, a few bits about Paul Revere, and a bunch of other founding myths that, even when I was a child, I just didn't buy.*

Mary Katharine Goddard,
printer, publisher, patriot
And I really hated that the only woman involved in the whole mess seemed to be Betsy Ross--who sewed! It didn't help that my mother was a great needlewoman and that I absolutely hated anything involving needles and thread. Even then I thought the story was crap, and now I know it is. (For the "myth" of Betsy Ross, click here.

But there are many really fascinating women's stories when it comes to the American Revolution--women who resisted the British, women who went to war as soldiers, women who were involved in revolutionary politics, women who followed the Continental Army and nursed, fed, and supported soldiers.

One of the most interesting of these figures, at least to me, is Mary Katharine Goddard, a publisher and printer--she printed the Declaration of Independence in 1777, and although she was the second printer to produce the Declaration, hers was the first printed version to include the names of the men who signed the document.

And, right there, underneath their names, was hers: "Printed by Mary Katharine Goddard."

Goddard was the daughter of Giles Goddard, a physician and the first postmaster of New London, Connecticut. Her mother, Sarah Updike Goddard, was herself a printer and, along with her son, co-founder and publisher of the Providence Gazette and Country Journal, a revolutionary journal, and the Maryland Journal, in Providence, Rhode Island. (Sarah Updike Goddard provided the money to start the business.)

Sarah Updike Goddard had been very well educated, taught French and Latin by a tutor in addition to basic reading and writing. Members of her family had emigrated to the colonies in the seventeenth century, and by the time Sarah was born, they were owners of substantial amounts of land and had served in a variety of public offices.  

Mary Katharine Goddard seems to have been educated by her mother. She worked with her mother and brother, William, in their printing business, but after her brother shut down the Gazette and left the business, the two women continued to publish. They produced an almanac and pamphlets under the imprint "S. and W. Goddard." They soon resumed publication of the Providence Gazette, naming the publisher as "Sarah Goddard & Company."

Eventually Sarah Goddard sold the business, and the two women joined William in Philadelphia, where Sarah Goddard once again invested money in her son's publishing effort, The Pennsylvania Chronicle. Again William left the city, moving on to Baltimore.

Meanwhile, the two women remained in Philadelphia publishing the Chronicle. After her mother's death in 1770, Sarah continued to publish the newspaper on her own. In 1774, she sold the Philadelphia paper and joined her brother in Baltimore, taking over as editor and publisher of the Maryland Journal and the Baltimore Advertiser.

She continued publication throughout the American Revolution. At the same time, in 1775, she became the postmaster of Baltimore, probably the first woman in the American colonies to serve in that role. In assessing Goddard's publications during the war, Petula Dvorak notes she, "print[ed] scoops from Revolutionary War battles from Concord to Bunker Hill and continu[ed] to publish after her offices were twice raided and her life was repeatedly threatened. . . ."

Goddard's printed
Declaration of Independence
In January 1777, responding to the Second Continental Congress's decision that the Declaration of Independence be widely distributed, she offered her press--despite the risks of publishing a document that was considered treasonous by the British.

Following a dispute with her brother, she was displaced as publisher of the Maryland Journal, but she did continue to publish on her own.  She remained as postmaster until October 1789, when she was removed from that position and replaced by a man--the argument for replacing her was that a man would be able to travel! Her ouster from the role of postmaster seems to have caused turmoil and protest, but despite a petition signed by 230 citizens, that was that.

Mary Katharine Goddard continued to operate a bookstore for several more years. She died on 12 August 1816, aged 78.

For an excellent biographical essay, posted at the Maryland Women's Hall of Fame website, click here. There is also an entry in the Encyclopedia Britannica, still mostly notable for not including women--but here it is, an entry on Mary Katharine Goddard!

For Petula Dvorak's essay, "This Woman's Name Appears on the Declaration of Independence. So Why Don't We Know Her Story?" (Washington Post), click here.

"Printed by Mary Katharine Goddard"

*George Washington couldn't lie about chopping down a cherry tree, but, as Mary V. Thompson notes, he had no problem lying about his slaves--"George Washington showed that he, a man whose reputation was built on honesty, would lie to protect property rights." Just saying . . . 

Sunday, June 3, 2018

Rachel Ruysch, Still-Life Artist

Rachel Ruysch (born 3 June 1664)

Let's just say I've never been a fan of minimalism--"less is more" is not for me. More is more, as far as I am concerned. 

And, as an avid gardener, that was my working principle--if three or four tulips were good, a bed of fifty was better. And so for flowers indoors--no ikebana arrangements in my house. One iris and a twisted branch? How about a vase of two dozen irises instead???
Rachel Ruysch, c. 1706,
portrait by Godfried Schalcken

So I have always been a huge fan of the still-life paintings of Rachel Ruysch--lush, exuberant, ample, overflowing . . . According to the Grove Dictionary of Art, she is "widely regarded as the most gifted woman in the history of the subject," Not sure why they limit this assessment to woman . . . 

Born in The Hague on 3 June 1664, Rachel Ruysch was the daughter of a noted scientist, Frederick Ruysch, who was an anatomist and botanist. In addition to his studies of human anatomy, he developed embalming techniques and opened a museum for displaying preserved specimens (it sounds creepy, but he made dioramas of his preserved human specimens, especially infants, and they were very popular) as well as items from his collection of flowers and insects. Important for his daughter, he was an amateur artist, some of his own illustrations of his botanical discoveries used in his publications.

Ruysch's mother, Maria Post, was the daughter of Pieter Post, a Dutch artist. He began his career as painter of landscapes and battle scenes, eventually becoming an architect noted as one of the creators of Dutch Baroque style.

When Ruysch was three years old, her wealthy and prominent family moved to Amsterdam. While she was still a child, she began painting some of the specimens in her father's collection, in particular insects and flowers. 

Summer Flowers in a Vase

At age fifteen, she began formal instruction with the painter Willem van Aelst--she was apprenticed to him in 1679. She continued her training with van Aelst until his death in 1683. One of the lessons she learned from him was the to create the same kind of full, less-formal bouquets depicted in his, and then her, still-life paintings of flowers.

While with van Aelst, she had the opportunity not only to become familiar with the work of Maria van Oosterwijck, a still-life painter whose workshop was near Aelst's studio, but she knew other women artists--among them Maria Moninckx, Alida Withoos, and Johanna Helena Herolt-Graff, all of whom specialized in botanical painting.

She seems also to have taught her younger sister, Anna Ruysch, to draw and paint. (There seems to be some debate about whether Anna herself studied with van Aelst, but little debate about whether Rachel taught her, since Anna's surviving paintings show some of her sister's unique stylistic details.)

Vase of Flowers
In 1693, Ruysch married a portrait painter, Juriaen Pool. Even after her marriage--and although the couple had ten children!--Ruysch continued her career as a painter, something that many women artists did not do once they married. (As I wrote just a couple of days ago, Sarah Curtis Hoadly quit painting professionally after her marriage, and that seems also to have been the case for Rachel Ruysch's sister, Anna Ruysch.)

Ruysch and her husband moved to The Hague in 1701, where both became members of the city's professional guild of painters, the Guild of St. Luke. Several years later, in 1708, the couple relocated to Dusseldorf, where they became court painters to Johann Wilhelm, the Elector Palatine of Bavaria. They returned to Amsterdam after the elector's death in 1716, though in the mean time, Rachel Ruysch continued to paint for her Dutch patrons. 

Rachel Ruysch's final known work was painted in 1747, when she was eight-three years old. She died three years later, in 1750. Unlike many women artists, she did not need to wait centuries for a revival of interest in her work. Throughout her career, she was extraordinarily successful.

For an excellent biographical essay on Ruysch, I recommend Luuc Kooijmans's wonderful entry in the Online Dictionary of Dutch Women (click here) or Christopher D. M. Atkins's entry from the Encyclopedia of the Early Modern World (click here). 

There's a glorious collection of her work in the online gallery at ArtUK (click here).

Flowers in a Glass Vase with a Tulip

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Sarah Curtis Hoadly, Portrait Painter

Sarah Curtis Hoadly, painter (married 30 May 1701)

This is NOT Sarah Curtis Hoadly,
but a self-portrait of her painting teacher,
Mary Cradock Beale 
Not much survives about the life of artist Sarah Curtis Hoadly.  She is said to have been born in 1676; she died in 1743.

The only specific date associated with her is 30 May 1701, when the widowed Sarah Curtis, described as a portrait painter, married Benjamin Hoadly, a fellow of St. Catharine's College, Cambridge.

Curtis seems to have been the name of Sarah's first husband--her surname before marriage does not seem to have been documented.

Before her marriage to Broadly, Sarah Curtis had gained a reputation as a painter--one of her subjects was the man she married, Benjamin Hoadly.

According to the account of her life in William Gibson's biography of Benjamin Hoadly, Sarah Curtis arrived in London from Yorkshire. In London, where she had lodged with Hoadly's sisters, who were mantua makers in Covent Garden. 

Also of note, Sarah Curtis studied under the direction of Mary Cradock Beale, regarded as one of the most successful female portrait painters in seventeenth-century London. In addition to producing her own body of work, she took on a number of students, Sarah Curtis among them.

During her marriage to Broadly, Sarah gave birth to five sons, two of whom were stillborn. 

And that is pretty much that.  

In his Anecdotes of Painting in England, the writer, art historian, and politician Horace Walpole described Sarah Curtis Hoadly as a "paintress of portraits by profession" who was "so happy" upon her marriage that thereafter "she only practiced the art for her amusement."

This is NOT Sarah Curtis Hoadly either, but
a painting of an unknown woman
by Mary Cradock Beale--could we
pretend it's Sarah Hoadly?
According to information at the National Portrait Gallery (London), only seven of Broadly's portraits survive, including that of her husband. 

Unlike her teacher, Mary Cradock Beale, who painted several self-portraits, Sarah Curtis Hoadly seems not to have left a self-portrait--or, at least, none has been identified.

I don't generally include images of
men in this blog, but this is
the portrait of Benjamin Hoadly
painted by Sarah Curtis Hoadly

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Benedetta Carlini and Same-Sex Desire in an Italian Convent

Benedetta Carlini, Abbess of the Convent of the Mother of God (first investigation begins, 27 May 1619)

Benedetta Carlini was born in 1590 on the night of St. Sebastian (20 January) in Vellano, a small Appenine village not far from Pescia--her father was a prosperous farmer who grew mulberries and harvested silkworm cocoons. 

At the time of her birth, it seems, her father pledged her to a life in a convent--as Carlini was later to tell the story, her mother, Midea, had a difficult labor, and the midwife told her father, Giuliano, that both mother and child would die.

Detail of two nuns embrading,
Paradise, by Giovanni di Paolo,
Falling on his knees--at least as Carlini recounts the event of her birth--Giuliani prayed to God, asking him to spare the lives of his wife and unborn child. Shortly after he delivered this prayer, the midwife returned, announcing the child's safe delivery.

Giuliano seems to have regarded this outcome as God's answer to his prayers. In return, he named the baby Benedetta--"blessed"--and promised that he would dedicate her to a life of God. In other words, he promised that his newborn daughter would become a nun.

Such a decision--dedicating a child to a religious life--was not uncommon for a devout family. Nor was it uncommon for such a decision to be made for financial reasons. The dowry, required for entrance into a convent, was much less than a dowry required for marriage--sometimes only a quarter, in fact. For many families, placing a daughter in a convent was as much a financial as a religious decision. (I've written about another such young woman, Arcangela Tarabotti, who was committed to a life in a convent without her assent.)

It seems that Benedetta Carlini's childhood was a happy one--and she remembers Giuliano and Midea Carlini as good parents, her home a comfortable one, with Giuliano himself educating his daughter. According to Benedetta, she knew her prayers and the litany of the saints by the time she was five, and by age six she learned to read and could begin to study the basics of Christian doctrine. 

In 1600, when she was nine, Benedetta Carlini was placed in a newly established Theatine convent in Pescia, il convento della Madre di Dio, the Convent of the Mother of God. The order of Theatines nuns, or the Sisters of the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary, had been founded in 1583 by the Venerable Ursula Benincasa, a nun of the Order of St. Claire who had seen a vision of the Virgin Mary and of Saint Catherine of Sienna

(The Theatine order, the Congregation of Clerics Regular of the Divine Providence, had been founded in the early sixteenth century, specifically with the goal of combating the "errors" of Martin Luther but also to encourage the practice of virtue.)  

Although the convent in Pescia was not as prestigious (or expensive) as other convents near by, the Theatines were an order devoted to the the reforming of lax morals. It was also, at the time of Carlini's entry in 1599, not yet fully established—this effort, underway at the time of Carlini's entrance, might also have made her admission possible. 

Benedetta Carlini began her religious life in the convent-in-the-making quietly enough, though not entirely without incident. She claims that, on the night of her arrival, she prayed to the convent's statue of the Madonna--and that the Madonna nodded to her. 

Then, not long after, Carlini says that when she was at prayer, the Madonna "leaned over the small altar." The girl thought that the statue of the Madonna was intending to kiss her--but she was so frightened that she knocked over the statue and screamed. This resulted in nothing further--except that the "Mother Superior . . . ran over and set her straight"--that is, she returned the statue to its original place.

But, in 1613, when Carlini was twenty-three, she began to experience religious visions that she reported to the Mother Superior and to her confessor. She saw gardens, then she saw herself surrounded by animals, then she was given a vision of the "Mount of Perfection."

In raising the topic of her experiences with the abbess of her convent, Carlini did not at first assume they were divine--both women also considered diabolical sources. Advised to fight against her visions, Carlini resisted them for two years.

In 1615, she began to suffer terrible illnesses, in particular at night, including paralysis. Physicians were unable to diagnose the source of her maladies. She continued to suffer--quietly--for another two years.  

In 1617 her visions, which she had tried so hard to suppress, returned--now, rather than visions of Jesus and the Madonna, she experienced visions of young men who pursued her, beating her with all sorts of weapons--chains, swords, and sticks. The beautiful leader of these young men also tried to seduce her, offering her a ring to seal their bond. 

So great was her torment that the convent's superiors assigned another young nun, Bartolomea Crivelli, as a companion--she was to share Carlini's cell, keep watch over her, and assist her. During her visions, Carlini spoke in the voice of angels and of Jesus, and she also seems to have appeared to observers as a beautiful young man. (Interestingly, the founder of the order of Theatine nuns, Ursula Benincasa, also had visions and ecstasies, for which she was called to Rome and examined by the pope.)

All the while, Carlini also was an excellent manager of the convent's resources, in particular of their silk works. The convent was near completing its new building, and it was hoping that its long-sought status as a regular convent was soon to be granted. And then, on the second Friday of Lent, 1618, in the middle of the night, she claimed that Jesus appeared to her one and spoke to her, an event that resulted in the stigmata appearing on her hands feet and side. Her companion, Crivelli, confirmed this miraculous event. 

Benedetta Carlini's successful management of the convent, along with the gift of stigmata, seems to have led to her election as abbess in 1619, at some point between February and May, when she was thirty years old.

And then things got crazy. Carlini, now abbess, began delivering sermons within the convent--women did not normally preach, even heads of convents--and while she preached, the listening nuns scourged themselves with whips. Her confessor was present, and he seemed to have had no objections to Carlini's sermons.

There were more visions and visitations, including one from Catherine of Siena, another from a beautiful guardian angel named Splenditello, and more visits from Jesus. One night he told Carlini to rip the heart out of her body--which Crivelli confirmed, saying she had felt the empty space in Carlini's chest. Jesus returned three days later and put his own heart into the abbess's body. 

On 20 May 1619 she had a vision that would lead to her downfall. On that night, she claimed that Jesus appeared to her and said he wanted to marry her. He provided her with all the details of the ceremony, the decorations, the attendant celebrations, and the guests to be invited. Again her confessor was aware of the vision and of her plans.

At the wedding, as the other nuns watched and listened, Carlini claimed that Jesus had  a golden wedding ring for her and that, as he put it on her finger, the Virgin Mary looked on. Then, speaking through Carlini, Jesus gave a sermon--in it, he expounded on Carlini's extraordinary qualities.

Image of Theatine nun,
''I would like that this, my bride, be empress of all the nuns,'' Jesus said. He also commanded that the Grand Duke of Tuscany should be informed about her greatness. And, he added, anyone who did not obey, believe and cherish Carlini would be punished. 

But observers of this ceremony--especially those from the town--grew concerned, particularly at Jesus's warning, delivered through his bride, Carlini: "And he who does not believe in my bride shall not be saved."

The provost of Pescia, Stefano Cecchi, the leading ecclesiastical officer of the city, ordered all who had witnessed the ceremony not to speak of it. And Carlini was removed as abbess of the convent. 

The investigation of Benedetta Carlini began on 27 May 1619--or, at least, that's when the record of the testimony begins. 

Carlini was first subjected to a physical examination--in particular the sites of the stigmata were examined, and testimony was taken from Carlini about the "how those wounds came to be on her body." The stigmata were examined again on 7 June, and then they seemed to be healed. A week later, on 14 June, the wounds on her hand, feet, side, and head seemed fresh and were again bleeding. 

But, by July, the investigation was drawn to an uneasy end, and Benedetta Carlini was restored as abbess. For another two years, she managed the convent and continued with her mystical visions. But then she went too far--on Annunciation Day ( 25 March) 1621, Carlini died. 

The frightened nuns called the confessor, who immediately arrived. He commanded Carlini to rise--which she did. And Carlini, "restored to life," began recounting all that she had seen while she was dead, including her vision of Paradise. Once again Stefano Cecchi was summoned.

This time, he did not conduct the examination himself. Instead, two papal investigators were summoned, and they began their examination with a quick summary of the premises with which they opened their report from 1623: "all novelty is dangerous and all unusual events are suspect." They believed Carlini was "deluded by the Devil."

They began to reinvestigate Carlini's claims to have received the stigmata and also her claims, not investigated earlier, about her extraordinary fasting. 

Two nuns were examined who reported seeing Carlini poke herself with a needle in order to produce her bleeding stigmata. There were also questions about the gold wedding ring Jesus had given her during their marriage ceremony. It was at first invisible to everyone except Carlini, but it miraculously appeared on her finger during the examinations. This "proof" was undercut, however, when strange yellow marks were also noted--suggesting that the "gold" ring was some kind of fake. 

This was followed up by another remarkable revelation that would be funny if it weren't so tragic. One of the great manifestations of Carlini's holiness was her fasting, and in particular her refusal to eat meat--but she was reported to have been seen eating--in secret--salami!

The final devastating revelations were made by Carlini's companion, Bartolomea Crivelli, who revealed to examiners that at night Carlini claimed to be transformed into the beautiful angel Splenditello. As Splenditello, Carlini made passionate and frequent love to Crivelli. 

During the day, while teaching Crivelli to read and write, Carlini, as Splenditello, kissed Crivelli, touched her breasts and called her his beloved. In her testimony, Crivelli said that she was the unwilling object of these erotic attentions. 

On 5 November 1623, the papal examiners issued their "final report." They noted that all traces of Carlini's stigmata had disappeared--along with them "her angels, visions, apparitions, revelations, and ecstasies." When asked about them, Carlini said that they had all gone. She also said everything she had believed and done had been because she was under the influence of the devil. The visions and her actions were not the result of her consent or of her own will--"they were done while she was out of her senses by the work of the devil." 

Things did not turn out as badly as they might have, however. Bartolomea Crivelli seems to have been unpunished for her role in events, and in particular for her sexual relationship with Carlini, perhaps because she claims to have been an unwilling participant.

But Benedetto Carlini survived what might have been a disastrous end. After disavowing all her visions, she lived. According to the investigators, she began living the life of an "obedient nun" under a new abbess, presumably still at the convent in Pescia. 

But, something does seem to have changed--decades later, on 7 August 1661, an unnamed nun wrote "Benedetta Carlini died at age 71 of a fever and cold pains after eighteen days of illness. She died in penitence, having spent thirty-five years in prison." While it is not clear, something about this entry suggests that, some time after documentation of her life ends, Benedetta Carlini came to be more strictly held, and thus a prisoner.

In writing extensively about Benedetta Carlini--in fact, her archival work brought  Carlini's life out of its hidden past--Judith C. Brown speculates that Carlini must have gotten herself into some kind of trouble again some three years after her investigators reported her living as an obedient nun under a new abbess--something that resulted in her imprisonment. But no further details survive.

Brown's Immodest Acts: The Life of a Lesbian Nun in Renaissance Italy, details her discovery of the documents relating the life of Benedetta Carlini.

Her subtitle--her identification of Carlini as lesbian--resulted in some controversy, not so much for her claims of same-sex relationships between two women as her identification of the modern concept of lesbian identity with a seventeenth-century woman's experiences. But it remains a terrific read, and I recommend it highly. 

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Adélaïde Labille-Guiard, an Eighteenth-Century Miniaturist and Portrait Painter

Adélaïde Labille-Guiard (born 11 April 1749)

Adélaïde Labille was the daughter of Claude-Edme Guilard and Marie-Anne Saint-Martin, the last of their eight children to be born. Claude-Edme was a successful marchand du corps de la mercerie--a haberdasher--his fashionable Parisian boutique, À la Toilette, attracting an elite clientele.

Adélaïde Labille-Guiard with pupils,
detail of Self-Portrait, 1785
Little is known of Adélaïde's early life, though it is likely she spent at least some time in a convent, learning to read and write there.

As far as her formal instruction as an artist, her experience differs from that of many of the women artists about whom I've written in this blog, who were trained by their fathers.

Without this opportunity, Adélaïde was tutored instead by a family friend, François Elie Vincent, a miniaturist whose shop was located near À la Toilette.

As an adolescent, she thus learned and practiced the traditionally "feminine" media of miniatures and pastels. She would later study oil painting with Vincent's son, François-André Vincent.*

While studying with François Elie Vincent, Labille was also able to join the Académie de Saint-Luc, a painter's guild joined by many artists who were not accepted as members of the more prestigious Académie royale de peinture et de sculpture. Unlike the Royal Academy, which severely limited women members, the Academy of St. Luke was open to female artists, including not only Labille but also her contemporary, Marie-Louise-Élisabeth Vigée.

In 1769, after the death of her mother, Labille married Louis Nicolas Guiard, a clerk in the office of the Receiver General of the the Clergy of France. Her marriage contract, signed in August of that year, notes her status as a professional painter and member of the Academy of St. Luke.

In 1774, Labille-Guilard exhibited there publicly for the first time. The 1774 Academy of St. Luke exhibition was so successful that the Royal Academy engineered the dissolution of its rival--a royal edict issued in March 1776, abolished all "guilds, brotherhoods, and communities of arts and crafts"--excepting the Royal Academy itself, of course. At the time the Academy of St. Luke was dissolved in 1777, there were 130 women among its members.**

Marie Adélaïde de France, a pastel portrait (1786-7)
of one of the princesses of France,
 Labille-Guiard's royal patrons
The closure of the Academy of St. Luke prompted Labille-Guiard to study oil painting--mastering this medium would, perhaps, allow her to become a member of the Royal Academy, which required an oil painting be submitted as part of an application for admission.

In the mean time, Labille-Guiard separated from her husband (while separation was legal, divorce was not). She continued her work in pastels as well as painting in oil, exhibiting both pastels and oil paintings in the Salon de la Correspondance, which opened in 1778, and was tolerated for just a few years before it too was dissolved.

Labille-Guiard exhibited at the Salon in 1781 and 1782 before she was, at last, admitted to the Royal Academy on the same day, 31 May 1783, that her contemporary,  Marie-Louise-Élisabeth Vigée, was also admitted. Both women were, by this time, well-accomplished and successful artists, and both had royal patrons, Vigée-Le Brun enjoying the patronage of Marie Antoinette, Labille-Guiard the Peintre des Mesdames, the official painter of Louis XVI's aunts, the princesses Marie Adélaïde and Victoire-Louise, and of Élisabeth, the king's sister. Their royal clients thus came from different court factions.

Whether it can be attributed to politics or misogyny--or both--these two women artists, Labille-Guiard and Vigée, were immediately cast as vicious rivals. As Laura Aurrichio describes it: 
The two debuted at the Salon amid a flurry of controversy, and were greeted by a libelous pamphlet filled with sexual and ethical innuendo. Vincent, for instance, was said to have “touched up” Labille-Guiard—referring both to her paintings and her person. Another quip punned that she had 2,000 lovers, because vingt cents (“20 hundreds”) sounds like “Vincent.” Labille-Guiard initiated legal proceedings by appealing to a well-placed patron. “One must expect to have one’s talent ripped apart,” she wrote in a rare extant letter, but “who can plead on behalf of women’s morals?” 
Contemporaries not only smeared both with sexual innuendo but with suggestions that their work was not their own, but "aided" by men, in Labille-Guiard's case, the claim was that she presented work by François-André Vincent as her own.

In his essay on Labille-Guiard in the Dictionary of Pastellists before 1800, Neil Jeffares acknowledges that  the "rivalry between the two [women artists] was intense." That observation seems to place whatever rivalry may have existed in the right context: as professional rather than personal. On the other hand, as the brief note on Labille-Guiard at the Getty Museum website observes, 
Labille-Guiard was often described as a bitter rival of the best-known woman painter of the time, Elisabeth Louise Vigée-Le Brun, but this rivalry was in fact the invention of male artists and critics threatened by their female competitors. 
Whatever the state of the "rivalry" of these two women artists, both women suffered for their association with royal patrons as a result of the French Revolution. While Vigée-Le Brun spent much of the time outside of France, Labille-Guiard was a supporter of the Revolution and remained in Paris. In the Paris Salon of 1791, she exhibited a series of portraits of members of the National Assembly, including that of Robespierre.

Portrait of the Marquise de Lafayette,
oil, 1790
Nevertheless, despite her republican sentiments, her commissions dwindled, and in 1793, she was forced to destroy her largest, most ambitious work, a large group portrait that had been commissioned by the king's brother, The Reception of a Knight of St. Lazare by Monsieur, Grand Master of the Order.

The Royal Academy itself was suspended, by order of the National Assembly, in the same year, 1793 (it resumed three years later, in 1796). She left Paris during the Reign of Terror, retreating to the countryside with François-André Vincent. 

She returned to Paris two years later, in 1795, recognized as one of the nation's savants et artistes awarded a "national recompense," or pension, probably as compensation for damages she had sought after the destruction of her large oil portrait in 1793. At the same time, she was granted an artist's apartment in the Louvre, which she set up as a studio, accepting only women students. (Her petition for such a space had previously been denied because female pupils would "distract" the male artists in residence.)

Meanwhile, after Revolutionary legislation permitted divorce in 1793, she was finally able to divorce Louis Nicolas Guiard. In 1800,  Labille-Guiard married François-André Vincent. She exhibited portraits at the Paris Salon until 1800, and she continued to teach and paint until her death, 24 April 1803.

By the way, the post-Revolutionary successor to the Royal Academy accepted no female members.

A gallery of work by Labille-Guiard is available at The Athenaeum, which you can access by clicking here.

The most extensive discussion of Labille-Guiard's work available online is the essay by Neil Jeffares in Dictionary of Pastellists before 1800, accessed by clicking here. Barbara Morgan's entry on Labille-Guilard, in Women in World History: A Biographical Encyclopedia, is available here.

For a full-length study, I like Laura Auricchio's Adélaïde Labille-Guiard: Artist in the Age of Revolution.

*The younger Vincent had studied painting at the Académie de France. In 1768 he was awarded the Prix de Rome, a scholarship awarded by the prestigious Académie royale de peinture et de sculpture. The Royal Academy prize allowed him to study at the Villa Mancini in Rome for a period of three to five years. 

**By contrast, the Royal Academy accepted only 15 women as members in its 145-year history, from 1648 until it was disbanded and reorganized after 1793--during that time there were 450 male members. The first woman artist accepted into the French Royal Academy, founded in 1648, was Catherine Duchemin, on 14 April 1663. The few women artists who made it into the Royal Academy were not accepted on equal status with their male contemporaries--they could not swear the formal oaths male artists did, upon their membership, vowing to uphold the rules of the Academy (aside from marriage vows, women were precluded from swearing oaths), nor could they follow the usual system of apprenticeship and admission. Even their acceptance as members was exceptional--rather than following usual procedures for application, they were granted special admittance. For the best overview of women in the Royal Academy, see Mary D. Sheriff's comments in the Dictionary of Women Artists, pp. 45-48 (click here).

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Thomas/sine Hall, "Changed into the Fashion of a Man"

Thomas/ine Hall (appearance in court, 25 March 1629)

According to the records of a 1629 trial in the General Court of Jamestown, Virginia, Thomas Hall claimed to be both a man and a woman--but his/her neighbors were in some doubt. While some agreed that Hall was both man and woman, others claimed that Thomas was a man, still others insisting she was a woman.

The colony of Virginia, 1624
According to the testimony Thomas Hall offered on that occasion, he had been born "at or near Newcastle upon Tyne" around the year 1603. 

Under examination by a Virginia court, Hall said that he was christened as "Thomasine" and was dressed "in women's apparel" as a child. As a girl, she had been sent from Newcastle to live with an aunt in London when she was twelve years old. 

Hall spent the next ten years living in the city, continuing her life as a girl, then young woman, until an older brother was forced into military service, at which point Thomasine Hall became Thomas Hall. 

Thomas Hall testified that when he was twenty-two years old, he "Cut of[f] his heire and Changed his apparell into the fashion of man," following his brother into the British army and fighting in France in the 1627 campaign against Catholic suppression of the Huguenots.

Returning home after his stint in the military, Hall began living once more as a female, this time in Plymouth--in his words, he "'changed himself into woeman's apparell" and worked in female-dominated trades, making "bone lace" and doing "other worke with his needle." 

But then Hall moved on again, deciding to travel to the colony of Virginia; as Hall describes it, he once more changed "his apparel into the habit of a man and so came over into this country." Arriving in  Jamestown, probably around 1627, when he would have been twenty-four years old, Hall seems once again to have lived and worked at least some of the time as a woman, before relocating to Warrosquyoacke, a small settlement across the river from Jamestown where tobacco planters were in need of workers--preferably male workers. In Warrosquyoacke, Thomasine Hall once again became Thomas Hall. 

This transformation triggered rumors among his neighbors (especially his female neighbors), particularly focused on Hall's sexuality, and there were reports of Hall's having "layen with a mayd of Mr. Richard Bennetts."

To settle the case, Hall was examined first by a group of women, and after a physical "searching" of Hall's body, the three women agreed that "hee was a man." But John Tyos, Hall's "master," disagreed with these findings, insisting that the women were wrong and that Hall was, in fact, a woman. 

These conflicting views of Hall's sexual identity--and his body--produced the statement that confounded his initial examiner in Warrosquyoacke. When Hall was brought for further examination by Captain Nathaniel Bass, Bass asked Hall directly whether "he" were a man or, in fact, a woman. Hall replied "he was both man and woman."

At this point, Hall offered Bass a description of his genitals. He had "a peece of flesh growing at the . . . belly as bigg as the topp of his little finger [an] inch long," but that "hee had not the use of the man's p[ar]te." That is, he had a penis, but this penis did not work. Bass decided that, if Hall's penis didn't work, or work correctly, that physical evidence was decisive. Bass ordered Hall to wear women's clothing.

But Bass's decision didn't end the matter. While Hall's new employer, John Atkins, remained convinced that Hall was a woman, the women who had examined Hall weren't satisfied. The group examined Hall's body once more, this time without his consent. As Hall slept, the women inspected Hall's body, confirming their original findings: Hall was a man. And they went further, insisting that Atkins examine Hall's body for himself.

Yet Atkins seemed to be so convinced that Hall was a woman--and thus, certain that for him to examine "her" body was inappropriate--when the sleeping Hall (whom Atkins described as "shee") moved in her sleep, Atkins decided he couldn't remove a woman's clothing or inspect her body underneath her clothing and refused to investigate Hall any further. 

Since the case was still unclear, the group decided that there had to be a third inspection of Hall's body, to take place on the following Sunday. On this occasion, Atkins did inspect Hall's "peece of flesh," and after doing so, asked Hall "if that were all hee had." Perhaps Atkins, like Hall himself, doubted the significance of the small "peece of flesh." 

Hall then revealed to Atkins that he also had "a peece of an hole." Atkins told Hall to "shew" what he assumed was evidence that Hall was, indeed, a woman, but when the group was unable to find a vulva, Atkins concluded that Hall was, after all, a man, ordering him to "bee put into" men's clothing. 

Atkins also urged Captain Bass to punish Hall for his "abuse," and Bass decided to reverse his earlier ruling--he proclaimed also Hall a man. Hall's situation was, if possible, even worse--now other members of the colony felt free to examine Hall's body for themselves.

Two men, Francis England and Roger Rodes, had heard that Hall, as a man, "had layen with a mayd," Bennet's servant named "Great Besse." (This is the rumor that had first triggered the investigation into Hall.) As Rodes said, "Hall thou hast beene reported to be a woman and now thou art p[ro]ved to bee a man, I will see what thou carriest." The two men wrestled Hall onto his back. As Rodes later testified, when he "felt the said Hall and pulled out his members," he found him to be "a perfect man."

Unsure of what punishment Hall should suffer for his transgressions, officials in Warrosquyoacke sent Hall to the General Court in Jamestown--which decided not to inspect Hall's body. Instead, the Court decided to hear the testimony of Francis England and John Atkins and then to hear Hall's story as he told it. 

After hearing the evidence, the Court decided that Hall should be compelled to wear men's clothing--but that to men's "breeches," he must also wear "a Coyfe and Croscloth with an Apron before him"--that is, that he, like a woman, must cover his head with a coif and that he wear a woman's garment, an apron, over his male clothing. 

Historian Kathleen Brown describes the final judgment of the Court:
Both the evidence gathered by the community and Hall's own historical narrative of identity figured in the General Court's sentence of Hall. Compelling Hall to don men's breeches, the court acknowledged the weight of the physical manifestations of sex that were of such importarnce to the diligent matrons of Warrosquyoacke. . . . But the court did not find the physical evidence or the sentence of an imposed (and permanent) male identity sufficient.
Thus his "identity" as a man was to be overlaid with signs of womanhood.  

On the one hand, this punishment seems not as harsh as it might have been. Fornication was a crime, but nothing came of Hall's purported sexual act with "Great Besse." Hall's possible sexuality was further confused when he told Francis England, who wanted to know why he sometimes dressed as a woman, "I go in woman's apparel to get a bit for my cat," by which he could mean that he "dressed as a woman in order to obtain sexual access to a man," or, as Brown suggests, that he dressed as a woman so he could money as a prostitute.

Hall could have been charged with an even more serious crime: cross-dressing was a capital offense, punishable by death. But Hall was not prosecuted for this crime either. 

On the other, the punishment ordered by the Court was not designed to accommodate Hall's identity as "both man and woman" but, rather to "publish" Hall's case so that "all the Inhabitants there may take notice thereof"--and, of course, to insure his "good behavior" until the Court decided to "discharge him." And the punishment meant Hall could no longer move back freely and freely between identities as male or female, as he might desire or circumstances, like employment opportunities, might dictate. Nor, dressed in this way, would Hall be able to maintain privacy within the community

After the 1629 General Court case, Thomas/sine Hall disappears from the record. 

For this account of Thomas/sine Hall, I have relied on Kathleen Brown's "Changed . . . into the Fashion of Man": The Politics of Sexual Difference in a Seventeenth-Century Anglo-American Settlement, Journal of the History of Sexuality 6, no. 2 (1995): 171-93. This essay, alone with the original documents of the 1629 examination of Hall, is included in Kathy Peiss's Major Problems in the History of American Sexuality: Documents and Essays.

An excellent summary of the case and original documents is at Outhistory. 

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Catalina de Erauso, "the Lieutenant Nun"

Catalina de Erauso (escapes her convent, 18 March 1600)

According to her autobiography, Catalina de Erauso was born in 1585, although the surviving record of her baptism notes a date of 1592--just a small indication of the confusion about many of the details of her tumultuous, adventure-filled life.

But, really, even if Erauso has exaggerated (or even misrepresented) some aspects of her life, what a life it was!

Catalina de Erauso, c. 1626,
attributed to  Juan van der Hamen
Born in the Basque town of San Sebastián, Catalina was the daughter of Miguel de Erauso, a captain in the Spanish army, and of Maria Pérez de Gallarraga y Arce.

When she was four years old (she gives the year as 1589 in her autobiography), the girl and her two sisters were sent to be educated at the Dominican convent of San Sebastián el Antiguo, where her mother's sister was prioress. 

Catalina says nothing more about convent life, noting only that, when she was fifteen, she had a series of increasingly heated encounters with members of the community. Finally, seeing a chance of escape, she took it, fleeing the convent on the night of 18 March 1600 and entering a world that she "had never seen before." 

At that point, she changed her identity. "I don’t know where I headed," she writes, "but I ended up in a chestnut grove out behind the rear of the convent. There I hid out for three days tracing and cutting clothing. I made myself a pair of trousers from a skirt of blue cloth that I had, and a shirt and leggings from the green shift that I wore underneath. Not knowing what to make of the rest of my habit, I left it there. I cut off my hair and threw it away."

From this moment on, Catalina de Erauso lived much, but not all, of her life as a man. Her decision seems at first purely practical, a way to avoid being identified and returned to convent life, but also a way to avoid the perils of traveling alone as a woman. At the same time, however, her life as a uman seems also to correspond to other needs and desires as well. 

As you can well imagine, gender and sexuality scholars have focused a great deal of attention on the both the "real" life of Catalina de Erauso (as it can be reconstructed) and the written (and constructed) life of Catalina de Erauso, la monja alférez ("the lieutenant nun)

Catalina de Erauso first came to my attention in 1996, when Lieutenant Nun: Memoir of a Basque Transvestite Nun in the New World, translated by Michele Stepto and Gabriel Stepto, was published. In her introduction to the volume, gender theorist Marjorie Garber focuses the attention of the reader on difficulties of addressing questions of gender and identity in Catalina de Erauso's autobiography. "How can we assess the erotic, social, and political effects of cross-dressing at a remove of almost four centuries, in the context of a culture very different from our own, and as described in a Spanish-language text?" asks Garber. "The short answer, of course, is that we can't," she answers.
When Catalina de Erauso fights duels, steals money, leads soldiers into battle, rescues a woman in distress, evades the marriage plans of hopeful widows and their daughters, and marches across league upon league of uncharted Peruvian terrain, it is tempting to see in her tale an allegory of early modern woman's emergent subjectivity. . . . When Catalina flirts with two young women, "frolicking" and "teasing," it might seem intriguing to read this as lesbianism avant la lettre, an instance of female homosexuality or, at the very least, love play between women. Yet all these readings are allegorical--that is to say, they are readings of her story as a story about something else--as indeed saints' and others' lives have been offered in the literary annals of her time and ours--as exempla, as indications of deeper or higher truths.
In 1996, when this English translation of Erauso's autobiography was published, the identification of this seventeenth-century figure as "transvestite" was controversial and contested. Now, more than twenty years later, the discussion is still complicated, with many scholars of gender and sexuality suggesting Erauso was transgender, still others continuing the debate about trying to understand the identity of a seventeenth-century person using twenty-first century concepts.

What follows here is just a brief summary of Catalina's life. After leaving the convent, Erauso has a series of adventures in a number of Spanish cities, serving a variety of masters in a variety of roles under a number of different names, including Pedro de Orive, Francisco de Loyola, Alonso Diaz Ramirez de Guzman and Antonio de Erauso. At times Erauso either meets or serves some members of her own family--cousins, her aunt, even her father--who never recognize her.

At last Erauso decides to travel to the Americas, where, as a man, he lives a riotous life, the autobiography recounting all kinds of madcap adventures, fights and brawls, and sexual misadventures. At one point, "he" is almost forced to marry a woman, at another, "he" is dismissed when caught in a compromising position with a young woman.

Eventually Catalina joins the Spanish army, using the name Alonso Díaz Ramírez de Guzmán. As a man, Erauso serves in Chile, Peru, and Bolivia, eventually earning the rank of lieutenant, recognized for brutality and efficiency. After another dizzying array of adventures and misadventures--he is promoted, he is suspended, he is imprisoned, he deserts the army, he commits heinous crimes, including murder, for which he is condemned to death and then reprieved--in 1623 Erauso is forced to reveal "her" identity as a woman. Her revelation is a last desperate act; about to be executed, she "confesses" to the local bishop, Francisco Verdugo Cabrerathat she is not only a woman but that she is a virgin, having been brought up in a convent.

As she tells the story in her memoir, the "truth" is this: "I am a woman; that I was born in such-and-such a place, daughter of such-and-such man and woman; that I was placed at a certain age in such-and-such a convent with my aunt so-and-so; that I grew up there, took the habit and became a novice; that, about to take the vows, I ran off; that I went to such-and-such a place, stripped, dressed myself as a man, cut off my hair, travelled here and there, went to sea, roamed, hustled, corrupted, maimed, and murdered, until coming to end up here at his Lordship’s feet.”

Sent back to Spain, Catalina gains notoriety and attempts to get a military pension, in recognition for her years of service. The documents in her petition include her relación de méritos y servicios ("account of merits and services") and a number of testimonies of witnesses. These records from her 1625-26 appeal preserve a great deal of the verifiable information about her. It is during this same period that she is said to have written or dictated (accounts vary) her memoir. 

Catalina de Erauso is eventually awarded her military pension. In addition, she is also granted another, more unusual request: she asks to be allowed to continue living as a man, and she receives official permission to do so. In 1630 Erauso returns to the Americas, living the last twenty years of his life in Mexico as Antonio de Erauso. 

Notions about Catalina de Erauso's gender and sexuality are thus confused and confusing. In the memoir, she uses female pronouns to refer to herself when she is living as a woman, male pronouns for her life as a man, a practice I've tried to reproduce here, though I remain unclear about which pronouns to use--if she were transgender, I would use the pronoun s/he uses--but I'm not at all sure about what "correct" usage might be in Erauso's case.

There are also questions about the genre of Catalina's work--is it autobiography? Or confession? Or an adventure story? Is it "true" at all, in any sense of that word?

1829 edition of Catalina de Erauso's
And there are questions about the authenticity of the memoir, which wasn't published until the nineteenth century. Did Catalina de Erauso "write" this story of her life? There is no surviving manuscript, nor is there any copy of a supposed seventeenth-century printed edition. There is a reference to a supposed manuscript copy in the eighteenth century, a copy of which was eventually published in France in 1829. 

I don't know the answer to any of these questions, though I do enjoy the lively scholarly debate about Catalina de Erauso and the memoir attributed to her. And, while I never taught this text, I did share it with a number of students in the years that I taught, for one of whom it proved to be a transformative text.

I could see the young woman in my class was struggling--she was absent far too many days, she wasn't doing the course reading, and she was missing assignments. She also missed the day students signed up for topics for an independent research assignment--when she came by my office, she was uninterested in the few remaining topics on the list. So I handed her a copy of the 1996 English translation of Erauso's memoir--maybe she'd be interested in this, I suggested.

She took the book. I'd like to say it saved her life--she didn't do all that well in the course, but she did complete it, and she didn't commit suicide, which is what she was threatening to do (and what I feared).

And two years later, happy, writing like mad, and active in the gay and lesbian group on campus, she stopped by my office one day to say thank you. The story of Catalina de Erauso had been an inspiration. 

The 1996 English translation of Catalina de Erauso's memoir is still in print--you can access it by clicking here. And, if you search "lieutenant nun" on the Amazon website, you will see a number of critical works, focusing on gender and sexuality, about Catalina de Erauso, and while they seem to be out of print, used copies are available.

For an introduction to the critical issues, I recommend Isabel Hernández's essay, "From Spain to the Americas, from the Convent to the Front: Catalina de Erauso's Shifting Identities," originally published in L'Homme, available online through Eurozine (click here).

While you can buy a copy of the memoir, you can also access it freely online. In English, the memoir is available through the Early Americas Digital Archive; the translation, by Dan Harvey Pedrick, can be accessed by clicking here. For a Spanish edition, available through the Biblioteca virtual de Miguel Cervantes, click here.

Friday, March 9, 2018

Mary Anning, Fossil Hunter

Mary Anning (died 9 March 1847)

Born in 1799 in Lyme Regis, a coastal down in Dorset (England), Mary Anning was the daughter of Richard Anning and Mary Moore. (Of the ten children born to the couple, only Mary and her brother, Joseph, survived to adulthood.)

Mary Anning with her dog, Tray
Richard Anning was a carpenter and cabinetmaker by trade, but in order to supplement the family's income, both Richard and his wife searched for fossils on what is now called the "Jurassic Coast"--the southern coastal cliffs and beaches of England noted for the fossil remains found there. These "curiosities" were sold on to those visiting the area.

Not much is known about Anning's childhood, and she seems to have received little formal education beyond learning to read and write.

But she learned a great deal about fossil-hunting from her family's expeditions, and Anning would later teach herself geology, paleontology, anatomy and scientific illustration.

After Richard Anning's death in 1810, the family's need was dire--at the time of his death, Richard left his two young children and his pregnant wife without means of support beyond charity and fossil-hunting, work which both Mary and her brother undertook. 

Together the siblings discovered the first complete Ichthyosaurus in 1811, with Richard finding what he believed was a crocodile skull and then, several months later, the twelve-year-old Mary finding the remainder of the skeleton. She excavated the entire fossil remains, which were then sold. 

The Annings' discovery "was used as the basis for the first ever scientific paper written about the ichthyosaur, published in 1814 by Everard Home." While the British physician received wide recognition for his work, the contribution of Mary and Joseph Anning was not acknowledged. (Not all of their contacts ignored their contributions, however--in 1821, recognizing the family's continued poverty, Lieutenant-Colonel Thomas James Birch, a wealthy collector, auctioned off all the fossil specimens he had purchased from the Annings in order to secure their financial situation.)

By 1816, Joseph Anning began working as an apprentice to an upholsterer, leaving the "family business" of fossil-hunting to Mary. In 1823, she is credited with having discovered the first intact Pleisiosaurus skeleton, and in 1828, she discovered the first British pterosaur specimen, later known as a Pterodactulus. In 1829, she discovered and excavated a Squaloraja, a fossil fish.

Anning's 1824 sketch of a Pleiiosaur

In addition to her discoveries, Anning read (and copied) scientific papers, including their illustrations, carried out dissections, and became an expert anatomist. She was consulted by geologists and paleontologists and made innumerable contributions to the work of men of science--more often than not without acknowledgment or recognition. 

As one of her friends and companions, Anna Pinney, noted, "She says the world has used her ill. . . [T]hese men of learning have sucked her brains, and made a great deal of publishing works, of which she furnished the contents, while she derived none of the advantages."

As a woman, Anning could not claim membership in the British Association for the Advancement of Science (founded in 1831) or the Geological Society of London (founded in 1807), but in 1838 members of these scientific associations raised money to provide an annuity for her support.  

Fossil-hunting was both physically taxing and dangerous--Manning was nearly killed by a landslide in 1833 (a disaster that resulted in the death of her "old faithful dog," Tray, who accompanied her on her dangerous excavations). She spent the last years of her life suffering from a variety of illnesses, eventually dying from breast cancer at the age of forty-seven. 

The assessment of her life and work offered by the Lyme Regis Museum, which exhibits some of her fossil finds, provides an excellent insight into her scientific contributions:
Mary Anning’s discoveries were some of the most significant geological finds of all time. They provided evidence that was central to the development of new ideas about the history of the Earth. Her opinions were sought and she was acknowledged as an expert in many areas, including the rather unglamorous coprolites (fossil faeces). She played a key role in informing the work of her learned, male contemporaries, notably William Buckland, Henry de la Beche and William Conybeare. By the time of her death, geology was firmly established as its own scientific discipline.
Mary’s contribution had a major impact at a time when there was little to challenge the biblical interpretation of the story of creation and of the flood. The spectacular marine reptiles that Mary unearthed shook the scientific community into looking at different explanations for changes in the natural world.
And while I usually bitch to anyone who will listen about the deficiencies of the venerable Encyclopedia Britannica when it comes to their treatment of notable women, the EB does contain an entry for Mary Anning. The essay, by John P. Rafferty, concludes, 
After [Mary Anning] died of breast cancer in 1847, the president of the Geological Society eulogized her in his annual address, even though the first women would not be admitted to the organization until 1904. In 2010 she was recognized by the Royal Society as one of the 10 most influential women scientists in British history.
Today there is an excellent account of Mary Anning's life and work at the Natural History Museum in London--which is where I first encountered her!

There are several biographies about Mary Anning, but they all seem to be children's books . . . Sigh.

Anning display at the Natural History Museum, London

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Joan Carlile, England's First Professional Female Artist

Joan Palmer Carlile (buried 27 February 1679)

Not much is known about the life of Joan Palmer, who was the daughter of William Palmer, a official of the royal parks of St. James's and Spring Gardens (under James I), and his wife, a woman named Mary. 

Joan was likely born about the year 1606, and in 1626 she married the poet and playwright Lodowick Carlile (sometimes "Carlell") who was, like her father, an official in the Royal Parks system, in his case Keeper of the Great Forest in Richmond Park. He was also a courtier, Gentleman of the Bows for Charles I and a groom to the King and Queen's Privy Chamber.

The Stag Hunt, by Joan Palmer Carlile--
Carlile, her husband, and two children (left)
are painted along with the family of Sir Justinian Isham,
in Richmond Park
While she had no formal training--or, at least, we do not know how she acquired the rudiments of painting technique--Carlile soon distinguished herself as an amateur painter.

Her work attracted the attention of King Charles I, and she seems to have begun her professional life as an artist by copying original Italian paintings and reproducing them as miniatures.

She and her "mentor," Sir Anthony Van Dyck, who must have provided her with some kind of encouragement, if not instruction, are known to have received an impressive gift from the king of ultramarine paint, said to be valued at £500.

While she may have begun as an untrained amateur copying the original work of others, Carlile and her husband did relocate from Richmond to Covent Garden, which was then a center of artistic production. She also gained some measure of recognition for her work. In his 1658 work on contemporary artists, Sir William Sanderson wrote about Carlile in his Graphice, the Excellent Art of Painting, noting that she "excelled" in "oil colors." 

She did produce a number of portraits which seem to have been influenced by Van Dyck's court paintings. A relatively small number of these paintings, only ten, are now known, including a portrait of Lady Dorothy Browne and her husband, Sir Thomas Browne, now in the National Portrait Gallery; a portrait of Elizabeth Murray, countess of Dysart and duchess of Lauderdale, in Thirlestane Castle; a portrait of Elizabeth Murray, countess of Dysart, with her husband (her first husband) and her sister, Margaret Murray, lady Maynard, National Trust, Ham House; and The Stag Hunt (reproduced above), Lamport Hall. (To view and learn more, I'll link you to the Art UK website here.) 

Carlile's Portrait of an unidentified woman,
wearing a white satin dress
In 2016, the Tate Britain acquired Portrait of an Unknown Lady. When this painting was first offered for sale at auction in 2014, it was assumed to be the work of a male artist and offered as such, but art historian Bendor Grosvenor (one of my current crushes--who doesn't love a smart, diffident, quietly funny man?) recognized the painting as Carlile's work: "When it was listed for auction the painting was thought to have been by a bloke, but I recognised it as Carlile's from the sale notice as her style is quite recognisable if you know what it looks like." (For The Telegraph's article on the acquisition of Carlile's work by the Tate, click here.)

Carlile is now recognized as the "first professional female painter" in England. (See Grosvenor's article on Carlile in Art History News, for example.)

In her will, Carlile refers to other works, now lost (or unrecognized as hers): "the princess in white satin" (which may be the Portrait of an Unknown Lady--the unknown woman in the painting is wearing a dress of what looks like white satin) and "the little St. Katherine and the Mercury." So there may be more works emerging at some point. We can dream . . . 

The best information for Carlile comes from the Historical Dictionary of British Women; you can access the entry by clicking here.

One of Joan Carlile's miniatures,
possibly a portrait of Barbara Villiers