|GR: As promised, The Cover ;-)
Written by Tori Marie
(10/21/2003 12:47 a.m.)
Yeah, I know the old adage, "You can't judge a book by its cover". But this one gave me some things to think about before I delved into it and I am all curiosity to know if anyone else wonders in the same vein. ;-)
According to the back cover, the lady depicted is Mrs. Catherine Swindell and it was done c. 1769-71. I checked the index and cannot find Mrs. Swindell listed, so it seems that the illustration wasn't chosen because the subject is one of whom we'll be reading much. ;-)
Now, I really hope this doesn't sound shallow, but...is it me or does that woman have a very dark foundation line between her chin and her neck? ;-) Honestly, I'm not trying to be catty, but I really want to know. More than that, I can't help but think if that has some bearing on the choice of illustration. I've seen other portraits of the time, but never one that had this feature...at least not that I remember.
I've heard about women of that period using "paint", of course, and I can even think of an instance in JA that might possibly refer to it--the screens that Elinor paints as a gift for Fanny Dashwood in S&S. I've seen fireplace screens in an American home of that period that were intended to help keep the paint on ladies' faces from melting and so I've always assumed that this was the purpose of Fanny's screens. But why on earth would a portrait painter include that detail to such a degree? He's done a lovely job of making her fichu appear light and airy and ethereal? Why can't he blend her face so nicely? ;-)
So, whatever the painter's motives, is it possible that this particular painting was chosen for this particular book with that mask-like feature in mind? Are we supposed to infer from this that Georgian women were wearing a mask of sorts; that they presented one face to the world which covered up their true one?
Or am I just reading way too much into an artist's shadowing? ;-)
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