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American genre painting can invariably be equated with prominent names such as John Singleton Copley Washington Allston and William Sydney Mount Throughout our history genre painting has been a male-dominated scene This notion not only applies to the artist but also to the context of many famous genre paintings However as time progressed women began to play a larger role in genre painting both as artists and subjects In an article entitled Full of Home Love and Simplicity Elizabeth Johns discusses womens role in genre painting both as artist and subject In terms of subject Johns addresses several patterns in the female role The first being that women are absent in many historically important genre paintings Likewise when women are present they play a subsidiary role as in the painting Bargaining for a Horse by William Sydney Mount Mounts painting depicts two men conversing next to a horse in the foreground while the only woman in the painting is placed in the far background barely noticeable Furthermore Johns feels that in some cases images of women in genre paintings are even critical Using a second Mount painting titled Cider Making Johns argues that the female in line for cider is seemingly forced to wait her turn In addition to these patterns Johns noted the idea of separate spheres proposed by Harriet Martineau a famous 19th century writer These spheres represent ideologies of masculinity and femininity Johns feels that women are undifferentiated in many genre paintings These include two works by William Sydney Mount entitled Rustic Dance After a Sleigh Ride and The Sportsmans Last Visit In both paintings Johns claims that the women are painted plainly and without character while the men are distinctly portrayed Although these patterns were evident in many famous works they began to subside by the late 1840s It was around this time that painters such as Tompkins Matteson and Jerome Thompson began to paint scenes with greater female
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