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By Roberta White

"A Studio of One's personal: Fictional ladies Painters and the artwork of Fiction" is a severe learn of the portrayal of ladies artists in 19th- and twentieth-century novels in English, together with British, American, Irish, and Canadian ladies writers. This e-book lines the slow development from beginner parlor painters within the novels of Jane Austen, Charlotte Bronte, and others, to the intense expert painters depicted by way of modern writers resembling Margaret Atwood. Mary Gordon, and A. S. Byatt. In fiction as in historical past, the lady artist's operating house enlarges via time - through asymmetric steps - from a portfolio in a cabinet to a studio or atelier the place paintings can be accomplished and ready on the market or exhibition. This operating area is a degree of the declare that the artist makes upon the realm.

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11160$ $CH1 04-01-05 07:53:59 PS PAGE 46 47 1: OPENING THE PORTFOLIO Looking at Jane’s portfolio, Rochester perceives that, despite her status as an amateur artist or, at best, a quasiprofessional— governesses are expected to teach drawing—Jane Eyre is deeply serious about her art. Whereas Emma Woodhouse is too dilettantish to spend much time regretting what she has not achieved in art, the nineteen-year-old Jane feels deep regret that her work comes nowhere near embodying her inner vision. Jane describes her frustrations: The subjects had, indeed, risen vividly on my mind.

21 This point is borne out by the descriptions of interiors in ................. 11160$ $CH1 04-01-05 07:53:58 PS PAGE 43 44 A STUDIO OF ONE’S OWN Jane Eyre, such as the dining room and saloon at Thornfield, which have a painterly quality in their careful delineation of color, light, and angle of observation. The embedded works of art in Jane Eyre are of two kinds. What might be called Jane’s ‘‘parlor art,’’ her portraits of other people, shows her relationships to others and is associated with Bronte¨ ’s extensive use of physiognomy in the novel.

Jane’s striving for the unattainable ideal, the image seen with ‘‘the spiritual eye,’’ parallels Bronte¨ ’s attempts in the novel to suggest the hidden, unconscious life of her characters. Unlike Mr. Elton, Rochester has a genuine eye for art. As he scrutinizes Jane’s portfolio, it seems at first that he is simply investigating his employee’s accomplishments as a governess; his cool, impersonal tone is consistent with his harsh demeanor. Yet he interrogates her as to her methods of work and her feelings about it as if she were a serious artist, conceding that ‘‘the drawings are, for a school girl, peculiar’’ (82).

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