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Becoming a Woman in the Age of Enlightenment: French Art from The Horvitz Collection

Antoine Vestier, Allegory of the Arts, 1788, Oil on canvas.

Drawn from the largest private collection of French art in the United States, Becoming a Woman in the Age of Enlightenment represents the many paths and stages of women's lives in 18th-century France. It highlights a period when women's traditional roles in society were being challenged and reimagined. While the dominant narrative was still one of women's physical and intellectual inferiority, a counter-narrative began to emerge that viewed women the potential equal of man in intelligence, creativity, responsibility, and power. This shift, due in part to the emergence of salon culture, inspired new debates about women's place in the world,

The more than 150 works of art on display include pieces by Francois Boucher, Jean-Honore Fragonard, and Jacques-Louis David. A number of women artists are represented, including Anne Vallayer-Coster, Adelaide Labille-Guiard, and Pauline Azou. The exhibition is made up primarily drawings, but also includes pastels, paintings and sculptures.

Becoming a Woman is curated by Melissa Hyde, Professor of Art History, University of Florida Research Foundation Professor, University of Florida, and the late Mary D. Sheriff, W.R. Kenan Jr. Distinguished Professor of Art History, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. It is organized by Alvin L. Clark, Jr, Curator, The Horvitz Collection and The J.E. Horvitz Research Curator, Harvard Art Museums/Fogg.

An illustrated catalogue with an essay by the curator will accompany the exhibition.