The Female Painter in Women's Fiction, 1880-1930

full name / name of organization: 
Dr. Elizabeth McCormick

This panel seeks to explore fictional representations of female painters over a 50-year period (1880-1930). While art history presents us with an epic catalogue of women geniuses over these decades, ranging from Mary Cassatt to Georgia O'Keefe, less frequently do we see their counterparts in era literature. When one emerges, palette in hand, she is far more likely to be indulging a hobby or working a trade (a la Chopin's Edna Pontillier or Hardy's Sue Bridehead, respectively). Though she may aspire to – and achieve - genius, as Lily Briscoe does in Woolf's 1927 To the Lighthouse, she is unlikely to appear as a celebrated virtuoso on the measure of her historical contemporaries (such as Tamara de Lempicka) or of fictional male artists like Wilde's Basil Hallward or Somerset Maugham's Charles Strickland.