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Tags for: Virtual Symposium: Picturing Women at Work in the 19th Century
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painting of women yawning and ironing

Women Ironing (detail), 1884–86. Edgar Degas (French, 1834–1917). Oil on canvas; 76 x 81.5 cm. Paris, Musée d’Orsay, Bequest of Count Isaac de Camondo, 1911, RF 1985. Photo © RMN-Grand Palais / Adrien Didierjean / Art Resource, NY

Virtual Symposium: Picturing Women at Work in the 19th Century

Thursday, November 16, 2023, 1:30–4:45 p.m. and Friday, November 17, 2023, 1:30–5:00 p.m.

About The Event

Free; ticket required

In conjunction with two upcoming exhibitions that explore images of women’s labor during the 19th
century—Degas and the Laundress: Women, Work, and Impressionism (Cleveland Museum of Art, October 8, 2023–January 14, 2024) and Mary Cassatt at Work (Philadelphia Museum of Art, May 18–September 8, 2024 and Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, October 5, 2024–January 26, 2025)—scholars from around the globe present on an international range of topics related to the visual culture of working women.

Additional information on the included presentations can be found in the list of abstracts.

Organized by Britany Salsbury, Cleveland Museum of Art; Laurel Garber, Philadelphia Museum of Art; Nicole Georgopulos, University of British Columbia; and Jillian Kruse, Case Western Reserve University


Thursday, November 16, 2023

1:30–2:00 p.m. Welcome / Opening Remarks 

2:00–3:15 p.m. Panel 1: Visualizing Invisible Labor  

  • The Lumière Sisters: Rethinking Female Labor in the 19th Century through Photography and Early Film  
    Kristina Köhler, University of Cologne 
  • Women Leaving the Shoe Factory: Frances Benjamin Johnston’s Photographs of Shoemakers 
    Isabelle Lynch, University of Pennsylvania  
  • Enmeshed: Lace and Women’s Labor in 19th-Century Photographs
    Beth Saunders, University of Maryland, Baltimore County 
  • Troubled Domesticities
    Elizabeth Carmel Hamilton, Fort Valley State University   

3:15–3:30 p.m. Break 


3:30–4:45 p.m. Panel 2: Depicting Laundry and the Textile Trade 

  • The Seamstress: A Working Woman for the Middle Classes
    Alice J. Walkiewicz, Pratt Institute  
  • Imperlaperle e merlettaie: Women Workers at the Point of the Needle in Late 19th-Century Venice
    Anna Dumont, Northwestern University  
  • Women at Work: Laundresses and Potable Water in the Entorno of 19th-Century Mexico City
    Stacie G. Widdifield, University of Arizona   
  • The Air That They Breathed: Thinking Ecocritically about Degas’s Laundresses
    Marni Reva Kessler, University of Kansas  

Friday, November 17, 2023

1:30–2:45 p.m. Panel 3: Labor and the Colonial Gaze 

  • Imperialist Imagery of Chinese Weaving Women in Great Britain: Thomas Allom and the Reworking of the Pictures of Weaving Genre 
    Roslyn Lee Hammers, University of Hong Kong  
  • Wringing Out the “Laundry Problem” in East Asian Modern Art
    Stephanie Seung Eun Lee, Northwestern University  
  • Black Women Workers and the Art of US Occupation in Haiti, 1915–1934
    Shelby M. Sinclair, Dartmouth College 
  • Portraying Working Women in the Visual Culture of 19th-Century India
    Divya Gauri, Jawaharlal Nehru University 

2:45–3:45 p.m. Panel 4: Representing Marketing and Selling 

  • Female Street Vendors, Manhattan to Montevideo: Local Market / Global Trade
    Katherine Manthorne, The Graduate Center, CUNY    
  • Chic Parisienne: The Department Store Saleswoman and Class in 19th-Century Paris
    Justine De Young, Fashion Institute of Technology (SUNY)  
  • Seeing and Sewing: The Family Business
    Francesca Berry, University of Birmingham 

3:45–5:00 p.m. Keynote Address and Final Discussion 

  • Demystifying the Immodest Modiste in 19th-Century Paris
    Susan Hiner
    Professor of French and Francophone Studies
    Director of Research Development on the John Guy Vassar Chair
    Vassar College 

Principal support is provided by Hahn Loeser & Parks LLP. Major support is provided by the John P. Murphy Foundation. Additional support is provided by Christie’s, the FRench American Museum Exchange (FRAME), Carl M. Jenks, Mr. and Mrs. Frank H. Porter Jr., and the Simon Family Foundation, a supporting foundation of the Jewish Federation of Cleveland.

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This exhibition is supported by an indemnity from the Federal Council on the Arts and the Humanities.

All exhibitions at the Cleveland Museum of Art are underwritten by the CMA Fund for Exhibitions. Principal annual support is provided by Michael Frank and the late Pat Snyder, the John and Jeanette Walton Exhibition Fund, and the late Roy L. Williams. Generous annual support is provided by an anonymous supporter, the late Dick Blum and Harriet Warm, Gary and Katy Brahler, Cynthia and Dale Brogan, Dr. Ben and Julia Brouhard, Brenda and Marshall Brown, Richard and Dian Disantis, the Jeffery Wallace Ellis Trust in memory of Lloyd H. Ellis Jr., Leigh and Andy Fabens, the Frankino-Dodero Family Fund for Exhibitions Endowment, Janice Hammond and Edward Hemmelgarn, Carl T. Jagatich, Eva and Rudolf Linnebach, William S. and Margaret F. Lipscomb, Bill and Joyce Litzler, Lu Anne and the late Carl Morrison, Jeffrey Mostade and Eric Nilson and Varun Shetty, Tim O’Brien and Breck Platner, William J. and Katherine T. O’Neill, Michael and Cindy Resch, Betty T. and David M. Schneider, the Kelvin and Eleanor Smith Foundation, Margaret and Loyal Wilson, the Womens Council of the Cleveland Museum of Art, and Claudia Woods and David Osage.

    All education programs at the Cleveland Museum of Art are underwritten by the CMA Fund for Education. Major annual support is provided by Brenda and Marshall Brown, Mr. and Mrs. Walter E. Fortney, Florence Kahane Goodman, Eva and Rudolf Linnebach, and the Kelvin and Eleanor Smith Foundation. Generous annual support is provided by an anonymous supporter, the M. E. and F. J. Callahan Foundation, Char and Chuck Fowler, the Giant Eagle Foundation, the Lloyd D. Hunter Memorial Fund, Marta Jack and the late Donald M. Jack Jr., Bill and Joyce Litzler, the Logsdon Family Fund for Education, William J. and Katherine T. O'Neill, Mandi Rickelman, Betty T. and David M. Schneider, the Sally and Larry Sears Fund for Education Endowment, Roy Smith, Paula and Eugene Stevens, the Trilling Family Foundation, and the Womens Council of the Cleveland Museum of Art. 

      The Cleveland Museum of Art is funded in part by residents of Cuyahoga County through a public grant from Cuyahoga Arts & Culture.

      Education programs are supported in part by the Ohio Arts Council, which receives support from the State of Ohio and the National Endowment for the Arts.