More notes at http://tanguay.info/learntracker
C O U R S E 
Sexing the Canvas: Art and Gender
Jeanette Hoorn, The University of Melbourne
C O U R S E   L E C T U R E 
Effeminacy and the Culture of Sensibility
Notes taken on November 6, 2016 by Edward Tanguay
The Blue Boy
stands next to Thomas Lawrence's Pinkie
achieved a level of popularity rarely afforded to an academic painting
Pinkie and Blue Boy make an engaging pair
Jonathan Buttall was thought to be the model for the Blue Boy
but Gainesborough's nephew is a more likely candidate
an example of costume and fashion in English portraits in the 1770s
the blue suit
became a trademark which made Gainsborough famous into a broader, popular sphere
the move away from masculine values towards a more feminized culture, which accompanied
mercantile capitalism
the emergence of urbanism
the arts of cloth-making, watch-making, ship-building, and the production of food went through a revolution over the 18th century
markets across Europe brought an increased level of prosperity
increased level of luxury
an embarrassment of riches
a skilled representation of the sitter's costume
one of the aspects that drew patrons to Gainsborough's studio in Bath
his father was a weaver and his sister a milliner
trained his eye to the materiality of cloth
enabling his extraordinary skill of rendering the appearance of fabrics
the Blue Boy's costume embraces the values of effeminacy
the new luxury provided by the unparalleled grown of markets in the 18th century
extraordinary grandeur of dress
a culture that more thoroughly embraced feminine values
men marked their apprehensions over relinquishing their older male ideals associated with classical warriors and farmers
The Third Earl of Shaftesbury
was concerned with what this meant for the morals, and the public behavior of both men and women
after the Blue Boy arrived at the Huntington
the American cartoon character Dennis the Menace pronounced the Blue Boy a sissy
this was what critics of sensibility were worried about in the 18th century
that men had so embraced feminine values in attempting to take on the culture of refinement, that they had become too feminine
it was believed that the more men refined their pleasures, the more humane they became
and the less susceptible they were then to indulge in vices such as gluttony, drunkenness and whoring, thereby contributing to the improvement of public life
but it was afraid that they were neglecting their masculine side
the sport of fox hunting was suggested as an anecdote
Sir John Eardly Wilmot recommended the manly amusement of fox hunting as an entirely British antidote to effeminacy
"It's pursuit gives hardihood, and nerve, and intrepidity to our youth, while it confirms and prolongs the strength and vigor of our manhood. It is the best corrective to those habits of luxury, and those concomitants of wealth, which would otherwise render our aristocracy effeminate and degenerate. It serves to retain the moral influence of the high over the lower classes of society, promotes good fellowship among equals, and is one of the strongest, preservative of that national spirit by which we are led to cherish above all life of active energy, independence, and freedom."
Blue Boy is clearly not about to embark on a fox hunt, but he still cuts a manly figure
elaborately dressed
the pose of the figure and the direct gaze to the viewer undermines the effeminacy that otherwise might have undercut the figure's masculinity
he firmly stands his ground as he looks straight at the viewer
his left hand rests on his hip is wrapped in more loose silk drapery
his right hand by his side holds a cavalier style feathered hat
he stands in the contrapposto pose, the classical statuary
his ribbon shoe laces completing his study in blue
his stance is not that of a sissy at all
nor is he here represented as a man of feeling
x-ray photography shows that Gainsborough originally included a shaggy dog in the right foreground of the picture
a water hound of the type seen in other works by Gainsborough
reasons Gainsborough may have removed the dog from the painting
the dog may have given the Blue Boy a more effeminate sense, as with some of Gainsborough's other paintings
it raised the issue of crossing gender boundaries
perhaps Gainsborough was being witty by removing the dog
or perhaps he was conforming to aggressive gender codes of his day