Art History Graduate Students Lecture Series
Illusory Pregnancy: Drapery and the Early Modern Female Body
Renaissance women touch fabric. Across early modern paintings, female figures fold, collect, and caress drapery with their hands. This lecture examines the pictorial trope in which Renaissance women engage tactilely with worn or accessorizing textiles. Drapery-gathering is uniquely female and contours the body beneath; at the haptic site where fingers and fabric interact, skirts bulge convexly outwards. Tight bodices relent to projecting midsections beneath empire waistlines, causing the bodies of early modern women to appear gestational. However, the resultant shape is an illusion. By handling their drapery, female figures perform ideal womanhood. Through a calculated combination of gesture and costume, represented women self-fashion as model Renaissance ladies.
Lane Eagles is a PhD Candidate in Art History.