Final Final Point

Overall, this blog and project has shown to me that within Art History authorship, there needs to be more review and creation surrounding LBT identities from prior to the 1800’s. That even using the artwork one created can help an author build a solid foundation in reaction to male homosexual identities, yet has not been used in order to create female potential identities. This just proves that there is still a hierarchy of importance within our society, even when speaking of the LGBT+ community, of straight CIS white men. The previous hierarchy of importance established male friendship before even a male and woman’s marriage, and in our current professional society, there is still evidence of it. Authors could create a potential argument for female artists prior to the 1800’s, yet none have done that so far.
This now ends my Digital Project for Gender, Art, and Society.


Ending Connections to Main Point

In my further investigation, along with tying all of the discussed readings together, I have found a lack of gender representation for anything other than CIS Male potential homosexuality. As even spoken about in the Masten, there is a direct lack of representation because of hierarchical importance placed on homosexual or even just male relationships over that of even a male woman relationship. If there had been expectations at the time of a woman’s alternative sexuality, it’s writings would more or less be overlooked, or not even considered a possibility, because of this dismissal of women’s relationships in the 1600’s in Europe.

All of the big male names have books written on them, such as Caravaggio in Caravaggio’s Secret, or Girodet in Solomon-Godeau three books, or Thomas Crow’s work, or in James Smalls’ Making Trouble for Art History. Anne-Louise Girodet had over 5 long novels created surrounding the possibility of his homosexual tendencies, some using the evidence of his work and the relationship between the figures and the viewers (who would have been predominantly male) however have I yet to come across a novel which analyzed the possibility of the few female painters of the time’s sexualities. I find this to be in align with the patriarchal oppression women experienced at that time, such as Artemisia Gentileschi who was refused entrance into art school, and even denied access to male models for her large, renown paintings. Her work and sketches feature women in heroic and even slightly more sexualized manner, yet all her life is analyzed for is typically her world-famous rape trial, and for her gruesome rendition of Judith slaying Holofernes.

If some Art historians dedicate their life and their careers into interpreting what little information we have about artist’s social background, and by viewing their art work themselves for clues or hints into the possibility of an alternative sexuality, it would be more than possible for one to analyze the life of the few female artist that existed as painters or creators during this oppressive time in society.

As expressed in Caravaggio’s secret, If a male had homosexual urges prior to the 1800’s, one would align them more towards what we now would call a trans woman, or a man who feels and expresses themselves as a woman. Simply because if one was to be sodomized by another male, it would lower themselves on the hierarchical society pole that was so artificially established within popular white, classist European culture. They would be looked more down on, yet still hold an excess privilege for still being male. The author was able to figure out this very delicate social change that happened within the community of homosexual men (who were out), yet did not continue to examine how that would imply people who were not male.  

Over all, I have found little attempts to connect sexuality with women artist at all, or women in general, of prior history unless they were directly tied to a rape trial, such as Lucretia who then killed herself in order to save her family’s honor, or adulterous affairs (or sexual relations out of marriage) such as Madame Lange, who Girodet then dragged through the dirt in his 1799 painting Madame Lange as Danae. This lack of representation just proves a critical point in history, which shows how oppressive the patriarchal society was. This could be a potential starting point for Art historians to start and then explore more, however with this, a woman’s relationship potentially to other women were overlooked, leaving nothing but the artwork they created to help authors create a solid foundation for argument.  

Yet, it could very well be done. Caravaggio was a well known play boy, having relationships with many women. But through his work alone, the author managed to make a solid argument against his potential homosexuality, even without a lot of the social standings surrounding what could have been his sexual identity. If this author managed to create who is a renown playboy in old history time as a person who had homosexual tendencies, it would be highly possible for one to do that with a woman’s work. The lack of representation for women’s sexual identities just prove how society’s hierarchal points surround still around CIS, White, Men. Even when speaking of LGBT+ figures in history.

Unless a woman was expressing herself in what society would express as unacceptable, she was hardly spoken about. Even the possibility of a homosexual relationship between women might and could have been written off as a friendship. Yet even an attempt at analyze these friendships in relationship to some women’s art, would show even an attempt at establishing LGBT culture in popular history, similar to how many have done when speaking of men. 

Further Evidence

Masten, Jeffrey. Textual intercourse: collaboration, authorship and sexualities in Renaissance drama. Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 2008.

Here is the Free Google Preview


This book, the Textual intercourse, focuses on potential stories of Homosexual men within the 1600’s, prior to accurate and long-lasting note takings. It examines not only different languages use to represent the act of homosexual activities, but also reviews them with a sense that what they, the authors of the various publications, are hinting or even almost directly speaking about. This book even writes about the hierarchy of relationships, aligning male friendships even before those of a man and wife’s married or unmarried affairs, further proving the point that if there were relations between people who were not just men, it wasn’t written or talked about, which then makes future writings in our current time from Art Historians all that more complicated.


Yet ,with this in mind, can we, as people who review and examine art works for themselves, without direct author explaination, take slight hints to an artist’s alternative sexuality? Can we determine, from an exposed shoulder, or an adulterous glare from the main figure, that the artist was more interested in their models?
Reviewing these, I can see that myself, interpreting a person’s sexuality dependent on their works is almost impossible. However the lack of even an attempt for any of the few female creators in the earlier centuries just shows the hardening of the patriarchal society oppression.

The Queer Question Related to Gender

Locker, Jesse. Artemisia Gentileschi: the language of painting. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2015. 

This is one of the newest books written about the life of famous renown painter Artemisia Gentileschi. Many books have been written about her life prior to the turn of the new millennium, however never before did they dig as deep as this did into the later part of her life.

This book is relevant to the understand of queer studies for not just what it did have, which did not relate to Artemisia’s personal relations outside of acquaintances, but for what it lacked: analysing any of her artwork for the possibility of a sexual desire underly.

As we have seen in previous posts, Art Historians have analyzed renown creators even around her time for their potential sexuality, however when it came to a woman like Artemisia, no one began to question it. She was married, of course, but in that time unless a woman was married they were not able to do as much as they desired. Marriage was just a dowery handed to the father of the daughter, more money in his pocket. She had kids, but many women had kids who might not have wanted them. There are many possibilities surrounding her personal relations, yet no one have analyzed the possiblity of a alternitive seuxality within her.

What brings this question to my foremind is that Artemisia herself, though it was forbidden for women to draw or paint the male nude, created works of women in heroic and statuesque manners. She was framed as a ‘feminist’ in the way she treated biblical stories of women, depicting them not just as nameless people who typically didn’t do much, or if they did were down played for their actions. Not only did she turn women from meger background characters to the forefront, she also began depicting herself as women within historical stories, such as in the featured image, Lucretia, a woman who was raped and then killed herself in order to restore her family’s pride.

Though I, myself, cannot declare straightforward that since Artemisia depicted and painted women with direct concentration of the contours of their bodies or attention to detail of her figure, call her to have an alternative sexuality. Such as Leo Bersani and Ulysse Dutoit were unable to declare Caravaggio as gay just through his paintings. However the absence of the question itself is what I am concerned about. How art historians have written and questioned the sexuality of multitudes of men throughout the early centuries, yet I have yet to encounter an accredited article about an alternative sexuality when speaking of Baroque or Renaissance women.

Featured Image: Lucretia, Artemisia Gentileschi, 1643

How does Gender impact Art Historian’s approach in examining one’s sexuality?

I am interested in examining and reviewing how Art historians in particular examine the possibility of an alternative sexuality when it differs between men or women, especially prior to the 1800’s.

I feel this direct relates to gender and society for societal ignorance on the possibility of an alternative sexuality in Women or AFAB (assigned female at birth) people against that of men. If historians are only able to make connections or even attempt to when it is about men, it will prove there is a hierarchy of importance implied to a man’s sexuality over that of a woman’s.

The Homosexual Question

Smalls, James. Making Trouble for Art History: The Queer Case of Girodet. Art Journal.

This article within a journal, the Art Journal, written by James Smalls examines how homosexuality and queer theory within art history and art historians, questioning how different famous or well known art historians handled the case of Girodet and his homosexual tendencies within his painting. Many choose to go around how he rendered the relationship between two men, claiming it just as a creation which may be over looked, yet others choose to face it head on, straight out claiming his homosexuality. This book, while rather good covering the difficult topic of historians accurate and without assuming the sexual preference of a creator. The issue, however, is because of the prevalent of male artist within older history creating the ideal that there were no other queer people. This, the refusing of even examining the queer identity of a man, goes father into even accepting that there may have been queer women or people of a different identity being represented.

Mostly when examining works of art or historical context for years prior, we run into the wall that, if queer people were written about, it was just men. Homosexuality in men was, though not highly accepted, analyzed more then any kind of queer identity within women.


Header created by Girodet, titled Revolt in Cairo, in 1810, This is examined within the art journal for the relationship of the far right two figures.

The ‘Secret’

Leo Bersani and Ulysse Dutoit, Caravaggio’s Secret, MIT Press, 1998

This written book examines the life and creation of Caravaggio, an artist of the late 1500’s. Caravaggio had the history of being a little bit of a ‘playboy’ as some might say, yet when analyzing his works, many art historians have gotten a deeper understanding of his life. The way he creates such things, and how certain elements may be analyzed as sexual in nature, have brought many to the conclusion that Caravaggio was gay. He created these works which held such a sexualized way of attractive men. Taking time to render the muscle, while yet leaving them soft enough to not masculinize his models.

This is an active thought process. Back in those times, as this written covers, that men could be gay, however it was only because they were actually women trapped in a man’s body. Yes, if you were a gay man, they basically believed you were trans. For you were having women urges even though you still were bodily a man. Men were not allowed to have the urges of a women, therefore they would assumed as another possible gender. A man trapped in the body of a woman.

That is why many examined his work in a more homoerotic nature, for how more androgynous his models were rendered. Yet, even though they were rendered more neutral, and that Caravaggio was accused of sharing a young man with another painter (and was brought to trial) it still cannot be confirmed that he was gay. This article covers how, even though we may try to get something out of his creations by how they looked, the deeper meaning, we cannot assign a sexuality to a painter just for that. It is wrong for Art historians to assume one’s sexual preferences just for their creations.

This is only for a man, however. If it was a woman painter in question, the male nude wouldn’t have been allowed even, therefor a woman painting other women, even in a very sexual or seductive manner, would not have been assumed as being sexualized. Art historians would not have assigned a sexual identity to women for their work, as they do men.

Header Image by Caravaggio, Bacchino Malato, 1593, which is brought up in the reading in question. This is a self portrait of himself as Bacchus, but ill, who is the god of wine and parties.