Lecture | The Rococo Erotics of Disguise and Innocence: Revisiting the issue of viewing pleasure in the ancien régime | Patricia Simons

 "Jupiter in the Guise of Diana, and the Nymph Callisto" by François Boucher (1759). Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

“Jupiter in the Guise of Diana, and the Nymph Callisto” by François Boucher (1759). Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

The erotic pleasure of rococo art is usually considered frivolous and feminine, but what if the seeming superficiality and insincerity did have emotive impact? By considering images of playful babes and mythological nymphs, this lecture demonstrates that the masquerade of insignificance enabled the true mask, the nonchalant disguise of innocence, which nevertheless luxuriated in sensuality.

Patricia Simons’ scholarly interests include the art of Renaissance Europe (primarily Italy, France and the Netherlands) with a special focus on the representation of gender and sexuality and interdisciplinary research on materiality, visuality and material culture. Her work, published in anthologies and peer-review journals like Art HistoryRenaissance Quarterly, and Renaissance Studies, has investigated such issues as portraiture as a mode of fictive representation, medical discourse in relation to visual culture, the representation and reception of homoeroticism, and metaphors both visual and textual (literary or “popular”). It is distinguished for its combination of rigour and innovation, as well as for analyzing the breadth of visual and material culture, from badges to maiolica, anatomical illustration to erotic prints, life size sculpture to canonical oil paintings and frescoes.

Her most recent book is The Sex of Men in Premodern Europe: A Cultural History (Cambridge University Press, 2011). Her numerous essays analyzing the visual and material culture of Early Modern Europe range over such subjects as female and male homoeroticism, and the visual role of humour.

Date: 6pm, Thursday 4 December 2014
Venue: Macmahon Ball Theatre, The University of Melbourne
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