True Womanhood
“I was a queen, and you took away my crown; a wife, and you killed my husband; a mother, and you deprived me of my children. My blood alone remains: take it, but do not make me suffer long.” - Marie Antoinette after being convicted of treason

Marie Antoinette


Franz Xaver Wagenshon, 
Marie Antoinette, 1769 - 1770.











"[Early modern] women knew about the contraceptive effect of prolonged breast-feeding. They also made use of sponges, coitus interruptus, and abstinence, none of which was approved by the Church. Condoms made of animal bladders were known but lurked outside of respectability. The English called them 'French Letters'; the French in turn named them 'English hats.'" - Shari L. Thurer in Myths of Motherhood
  • average family in 17th century had 6.5 children
  • average family in the 18th century had 2 children
Rousseau must have seen the freedoms promised to women by birth control as threatening patriarchal control and thus advocated containing women to the domestic sphere because it was her "natural" place
Marguerite  Gerard, Motherhood, c. 1800.











Elisabeth-Louise Vigee-Lebrun, Portrait of Marie Antoinette with Her Children, 1787.










Emile: Or, On Education
by Jean-Jacques Rousseau 1762

Rousseau promoted the idea of the "good mother" = a woman who was completely committed to the care of her children and sacrificed all freedoms for their best interest
  • He demanded that middle class women devote themselves to the care of the family, breastfeeding, and keeping a comfortable home
  • "Rousseau viewed the saloniere as a threat to the natural dominance of men, the salon as a prison in which men were subjected to the rule of women." - Chadwick
Elisabeth-Louise Vigee-Lebrun, Portrait of Marie Antoinette with Her Children, 1787.











Leonard de Selva, Louis XVI Execution, 1793.











"When the preposterous charges of inappropriate behavior with her son were leveled against her, the unhappy mother made no reply. Urged anew to explain herself, she said, with extraordinary emotion, 'I thought that human nature would excuse me from answering such an imputation, but I appeal from it to the heart of every mother here present.'” - Awesome Stories
Alexandre Kucharski, Unfinished portrait of Marie-Antoinette, 1774 - 1792.












Jacques-Louis David, Marie Antoinette Awaiting Execution, 1793.











Along with the tides of political change came a new style to express the philosophies of the new regime
neoclassicism = a style of art, literature and architecture popular from the late 1700s to the early 19th century that revived classical aesthetics and forms and is characterized by strong geometric compositions, severe line, order and simplicity in style.

Abraham Lincoln

Oath of the Horatii

Vinnie  Ream Hoxie, Abraham Lincoln, 1870.
Jacques-Louis David, Oath of the Horatii, 1784 - 1785.











Young Woman

Marie-Denise Villers, Young Woman Drawing, 1801.











The Good Mother in
the Rococo style
and the Neoclassic
Jean-Honoré Fragonard, The Good Mother, c. 1770.
Elisabeth-Louise Vigee-Lebrun, Portrait of the Artist with Her Daughter, 1789.











Peace Bringing Back Abundance

Portrait of a Negresse

Elizabeth Louise Vigee-Lebrun, Peace Bringing Back Abundance, 1780.
Marie-Guillemine Benoist, Portrait of a Negrese, 1800.
The Atlantic Slave Trade in Two Minutes Interactive Video
Slavery was outlawed in France in 1794 and
Benoist's piece became a symbol for equality











"As a widow [Cornelia] turned down lucrative marriage offers to be faithful to the memory of her husband, by whom she had borne twelve children - all for the glory of Rome.  Her fecundity was much praised, as was her devotion to her children's education.  Under her tutelage, two of her sons, the Gracchi - Tiberius and Gaius - led a reform movement of the plebians against the patricians.  Both sons died in the ensuing unrest, but Cornelia was stoical.  She owes her fame to her reply when asked why she did not wear her jewels.  "These," she said pointing to her children, 'are my jewels.'" - Myths of Motherhood

Cornelia Pointing to Her Children

Angelica Kauffmann, Cornelia Pointing to
Her Children as Her Treasures
, c. 1785.