Lost and Found: Once More the Fallen Woman
By Linda Nochlin
Linda Nochlin in “Lost and Found: Once More the Fallen Woman” points out how “fallen” in the male world means heroic inspiration for the most part but for women the term is applied to sexual activity out of wedlock, whether or not it is for her gain. It was often incorporated into writers and social critics’ work. This particular view was fascinating to nineteenth-century artists (in the middle years) especially in England. The theme was undertaken by Dante Gabriel Rossetti whose interest was so great almost to the point of obsession. He devoted a number of his poems and pictorial works to the subject. The painting, Found (unfinished), was devoted to the subject, occupied his time from 1853 until one year before he died. It was a work he could never put aside or resolve. Rossetti describes the picture to Holman Hunt on January 30, 1855 seemingly straight forward stating that it takes place in London at a street at dawn with lamps still lit. A driver left his cart in the middle of the street and goes after a girl who has passed him wondering the streets. When he comes up to her and he recognizes her she immediately sinks onto her knees in shame against the wall of a raised churchyard in the foreground. The male stands and holds her hands, which he had to take deliberately, which he holds in bewilderment and half guarding her from self-hurt. Rossetti states that these are the main things in the picture which are to be called “Found” and for which his sister Maria has found him a lovely motto from Jeremiah that states. “I remember Thee, the kindness of youth, the love of thine espousals.” The complete implications and significance of the work and its relationships are “anything but straight forward”. This can be best understood best through examining 19th Century perspectives. Rossetti makes ideological assumptions in his attempt to invent the secular image of the fallen woman. He, and many others...
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