Gendered Silence in 19th Century Belgian Salon Art Works. Gender and Silence

  • Wendy Wiertz (Speaker)

Activity: Talk or presentation typesOral presentation


It may appear somewhat paradoxical to commence a chapter on the uses of conversation, by pointing out the uses of being silent yet such is the importance to a woman, of knowing exactly when to cease from conversation, and when to withhold it altogether. [...] (Sarah Stickney Ellis, 1839). In others words, in polite conversation a woman listened while a man expressed his thoughts. Conduct books like those of Mrs. Stickney Ellis, regularly underlined the importance of silence by women of the middle and upper classes, but was it also visually represented? This question is answered by a close study of the catalogues of the Belgian Salons des Beaux-Arts. During the 19th century, the Salons -alternately in Antwerp, Brussels and Ghent-, provided during a long time the only possibility to view contemporary art and were therefore visited by large crowds. The catalogues provide vital information about the artist and the depicted subject. That is why it can reflect whether silence was represented, how it was visualized, by who and if the theme was seen more often during a certain period, like for example at the end of the century when feminism rose. In short, this presentations will show if silence when depicted in 19th century Belgian Salon paintings, was gendered.
Period7 Nov 2014
Event title(Hi)stories of Power and Resilience in the Face of Modernity
Event typeConference
LocationLeuven, BelgiumShow on map
Degree of RecognitionInternational