Spectacular Flirtations: Viewing the Actress in British Art and Theatre 1768-1820

Perry, Gill (2007). Spectacular Flirtations: Viewing the Actress in British Art and Theatre 1768-1820. New Haven, USA: Yale University Press.

URL: http://www.yalebooks.co.uk/yale/display.asp?K=9780...


Spectacular Flirtations explores representations of the actress in artistic and theatrical culture of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries in Britain.Focusing on the close relationship between the dramatic and visula arts, the author explores popular ideas of the actress as coquette, 'whore', celebrity, muse and creative agent, charting her important symbolic role in contemporary attempts to professionalise both the theatre and the practice of fine art. It is one of the first books to use visual imagery, especially painted and graphic portraits, as a primary source for the study of femininity in eighteenth century theatrical culture. The book develops new arguments on spectatorship, perceptions of femininity and social and cultural ideas of 'flirtation', exploring a theory of 'flirtation' as a tool for interpreting visual and written representations of the actress, and the discourse on women performers.Drawing on a wide range of archival, artistic and theatrical sources, Perry argues that a fashionable culture of 'dressing up' and flirtatious masquerade, performed through public drama, concerts, amateur theatricals and painted portraits, provided late eighteenth century actresses with many possibilities for unconventional role-playing, both on and off stage.

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