Continuuing its exploration of works from its own collection, the El Paso Museum of Art is opening a show this Sunday entitled “The Sacred and the Secular: Women in Renaissance, Baroque and Rococo prints” generally exploring the theme of how women were portrayed in this era.
The prints cover a period from Durer to Goya and in the introduction Christian Gerstheimer, curator of the show, talks of how as society changed from being dominated by the Catholic Church to a more humanistically oriented society (relatively speaking, of course) so too did the approach towards women, moving away from portraying them solely as the Virgin or as caregivers to playing other roles in society or at least to taking part in that society such as the inclusion in an 18th century print of a falconry party.
I might argue what this shows is less changing woman’s role, and more a change in what was considered desirable as subject matter as well as a changing society in general. As buyers of paintings moved from the exclusive province of the Church, and then the nobility and as there began to arise a middle class, so what was desired in subject matter also changed. It is this, I believe , that is shown more effectively in this show.
This is a small point, however, and whatever the theme there is never a reason not to go see a Durer or Goya print. All of these prints are exquisitely done. The show opens Sunday in the DeWitter Gallery on the second floor.