This work explores Edith Wharton’s career-long concern with a 19th-century visual culture that limited female artistic agency and expression. Wharton repeatedly invoked the visual arts—especially painting—as medium for revealing the ways that women’s bodies have been represented (as passive, sexualized, infantalized, sickly, dead). Well-versed in the Italian masters, Wharton made special use of the art of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, particularly its penchant for producing not portraits of individual women but instead icons onto whose bodies male desire is superimposed. READ MORE >>>

Emily J. Orlando is Associate Professor of English at Fairfield University READ MORE >>>

As part of the January 2014 celebration of Edith Wharton’s birthday, Emily J. Orlando will give a talk at The Mount (Wharton’s Lenox, Massachusetts home) titled “Fifty Shades of Lily: Wharton, Art, and Popular Culture.”