TitleThe modern monarch
NameFlorek, Olivia Gruber (author), Sidlauskas, Susan (chair), Zervigon, Andres Mario (internal member), Sharp, Jane Ashton (internal member), Comini, Alessandra (outside member), Rutgers University, Graduate School - New Brunswick,
Modernism (Aesthetics)--Austria--History--19th century,
Modernism (Art)--Austria--History--19th century,
Femininity in art ,
Elisabeth,--Empress, consort of Franz Joseph I, Emperor of Austria,--1837-1898--Portraits
DescriptionThis dissertation examines painted, photographic, and printed portraits of Empress Elisabeth of Austria (1837-1898) as sites for the visualization of modern women. A renowned beauty whose images were collected by individuals of every social class across the continent, Elisabeth was both a producer of culture and an instrument in the expression of larger political, psychological, and artistic forces. Pairing visual analysis with archival research, historical contextualization, and theoretical frameworks drawn from visual culture, photography, and the history of psychiatry, Elisabeth’s portraits emerge as active participants in the modernist project. Chapter 1 situates Elisabeth’s portraiture within the historiography of nineteenth-century modernism. Her simultaneously theatrical and self-protective beauty reveals how the phenomenon of celebrity influenced female portraiture. The second chapter examines how Habsburg artists appropriated Elisabeth’s photographic image to project their own vision of femininity. Inexpensive photolithographs of the imperial family integrate photographs of Elisabeth to create narratives of domestic bliss. I argue that photographic technology was central to the success of these images because the trace of Elisabeth’s body masked the reality of her difficult relationship with her Habsburg relatives and refusal to perform the public duties of empress. Chapter 3 explores how Elisabeth created her own construction of feminine beauty using carte-de-visite portraits of beautiful women she requested from her foreign ambassadors. Elisabeth’s beauty albums pair Parisian courtesans with reproduced paintings of the French Empress Eugénie, suggesting an equivalence between empress and entertainer; this sensibility is visualized in Elisabeth’s 1865 state portrait by Franz Xaver Winterhalter. The fourth chapter links portraits of Elisabeth by Winterhalter and Anton Romako to the visual culture of psychiatry. As a woman who struggled publicly with mental instability, I argue that Elisabeth’s portraits allowed artists to visualize mental illness as an alluring, modern disease. In identifying portraits of Elisabeth as sites for the development of modernism, this dissertation introduces a sphere of visual and political imagery typically excluded from examinations of avant-garde artwork in the nineteenth century. Additionally, this dissertation undermines the traditional narrative of Vienna 1900 as an abrupt break from the past by revealing mid-century roots for the celebrated art of Viennese modernism.
NoteIncludes bibliographical references
Noteby Olivia Gruber Florek
CollectionGraduate School - New Brunswick Electronic Theses and Dissertations
Organization NameRutgers, The State University of New Jersey
RightsThe author owns the copyright to this work.