"Notorious Muse" by Robyn Asleson

Notorious Muse The Actress in British Art and Culture 1776–1812 Robyn Asleson

Studies in British Art
Publication date:
11 Jul 2003
Paul Mellon Centre
232 pages: 254 x 178mm
62 b-w + 14 color illus.


In this interdisciplinary volume, historians of art, literature, dress, and theater examine the impact of the actress on British art and culture of the Georgian era. From the celebrated doyennes of the stage to the demireps on the periphery of the profession, female performers are shown to have played a vital and hitherto under-appreciated role in the artist’s studio, forging fruitful collaborations with leading artists and becoming nearly as influential in the studio as on the stage. Acting as models, muses, and patrons, actresses inspired a remarkable proliferation of images in which issues of theatricality, sexuality, and social mobility were explored in ways that were impossible in depictions of more “respectable” women.

Robyn Asleson is former research associate with the National Gallery of Art, Washington, and of the Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens, California. She has been curator of two exhibitions of theatrical portraiture and is the author or coauthor of several books on British art, including British Paintings at the Huntington and Great British Paintings from American Collections, both published by Yale University Press.

"This is a beautiful book to look at and a rewarding read." ?Catherine Burroughs, European Romantic Review