D. Cherry, Painting Women: Victorian Women Artists (London, 1993)
Painting Women is about the experience of women painters working within the oppressive confines of Victorian patriarchy. Drawing on letters, journals and biographies, Deborah Cherry examines a number of women painters at work between 1840 and 1900 and the images of women which they produced, and unravels the ways in which the artists’ working lives were shaped by the social order of difference. Cherry provides neither a straightforward historical survey, nor a biographical litany. Instead, her study bridges the gap between descriptive historical studies, which recuperate the lives of women working in artistic milieux, and studies which look at the images of or produced by women but which fail to consider the historical position of the individual. The key to her exploration is subjectivity – how women saw themselves as able to be artists, how they managed to negotiate subject positions in a male – dominated world – and how this affected the images they were able to produce. Cherry ‘s focus on the lives of these women painters is located within the context of specific historical areas such as the women ‘s movement, the relations between classes and races, the debates around imperialism.