The Price of a Lily, by Anthony Teets

The Price of a Lily: Women, the “Economics of Ekphrasis,” and Art Connoisseurship in Vernon Lee’s  “A Wedding Chest” (1904)

ANTHONY TEETS, SUNY at Stony Brook

In Money, Language, and Thought (1982), Marc Shell writes that “money, which refers to a system of tropes, is […] an internal participant in the logical or semiological organization of language, which itself refers to a system of tropes.”[i] This insight invites further reflection on how the internal circulation of such systems might involve other related tropes or turns of phrase that participate in the same logic. If, as Georg Simmel observed, “money is similar to the forms of logic which lend themselves equally to any particular content,”[ii] then it should be possible to trace systems of operation in historical texts that investigate the circulation, exchange, and ‘traffic in women’ as commodifiable fungible objects of art. Such an investigation is the aim of this essay in exploring the internal circulation of tropes in Vernon Lee’s (Violet Paget) short story “A Wedding Chest.”[iii]

The “successful” approach recommended by Martha Woodmansee and Mark Osteen in their “Taking Account of the New Economic Criticism: An Historical Introduction,” “must combine several angles of attack, eschewing both narrow formalism and the indiscriminate connections and generalities of New Historicism […] and at the same time show how microcosm mirrors macrocosm by concretely demonstrating the dense imbrications of cultural artifacts within a society.”[iv] The following essay will combine an analysis of the internal circulation of tropes (intratextual) with historical (extratextual) research relevant to what I will call Lee’s political economy of the “traffic in women.”

In 1904, the year Vernon Lee published her short story in a collection titled Pope Jacynth and Other Fantastic Stories; Charlotte Perkins Gilman recorded in her diary that she had called on Lee at her villa “Il Palmerino” just outside of Florence.[v]  The exchange between these two enthusiastic and intellectual women will remain a mystery forever, but it is tempting to imagine that the conversation might have involved some discussion on the recent Italian translation of Gilman’s Women and Economics (1898) for which Lee had written an introductory essay “The Economic Parasitism of Women.”[vi] Perhaps Lee might have shared the news of her latest literary collection, or they might have discussed the condition of women in Italy from the Renaissance to the present time. However fruitless such speculations might be for that particular exchange of intellectual capital, it is worth noting that the language Lee used in describing her encounter with Gilman’s book resonates with critical valence, for she described it as her “conversion” to the Woman Question.

It has been noted that John Ruskin’s Sesame and Lilies (1864-65) created, or at least participated in the creation of an abstract theory of the relations between men and women as inhabiting “separate spheres.” Following Kate Millett’s thesis in Sexual Politics (1970), Sharon Weltman describes Ruskin’s lecture as “a perfidious system of separate spheres for men and women dependent upon the concept of complementary opposites,”[vii] a discourse of men talking to men about women. As monarchs or virginal lilies, Victorian women were regarded as inhabiting circumscribed spaces subject to various discourses including the ethical, political, economic, or aesthetic. In Gilman’s text, she puts back into the equation activities that have been deeded over to the sex sphere (things not really part of that sphere). Moving away from the discourse of middle class women, Gilman attempts an analysis of “woman” as a class. Women are considered to be a thousand years in the rearguard and it will take thousands more to bring them up to date. Gilman sees her society as one where “zero sum” competition promotes an unsubtle “winner/loser” dichotomy which mirrors the relations between men and women. The “floral” language Victorian men such as Ruskin used in describing women has been perceived as a means of keeping them within the circumscribed sphere and in the hothouse of their confinement. That “hothouse” is the household, or “nest” where Gilman locates the economic oppression of women.

In her review of Gilman’s Women and Economics, which subsequently became a chapter in her Gospels of Anarchy, Lee highlights two crucial insights in the text that brought about her “conversion to the Woman Question,” the first being that “in it, the rights and wrongs of Femina, das Weib, were not merely opposed to the rights and wrongs of Vir, der Mann, but subordinated to those of what is, after all, a bigger item of creation, Homo, der Mensch.” Leaving these various words for “male” and “female” in the original languages of Latin and German, Lee targets the mother of the “romance” languages (Latin) as well as that of the intellectual vanguard of her time (German). Gilman’s international and universal terms must have encouraged Lee who had always struggled to be recognized as a humanist, which included one who recognized the “queer comradeship of outlawed thought.”[viii] Here was a way of maintaining the language of a universal humanity while undermining the essentialist metaphysics generally used to bolster such a position. Vernon Lee’s response to Gilman’s book provided a new platform and a new language with which to voice her own disagreements with decadent aestheticism as well. By embracing the Women Question from the standpoint of economics and labor, Lee rejects hedonism and the separation of art from life practice, and as Christa Zorn observes, “reclaims from aestheticism its value as a socially and politically responsible discourse.”[ix]

Gilman herself declared in a speech: “I am called a feminist: I am not a feminist; I am a humanist. The reason why I have had to stop and study the position of women […] is because woman in her present position is the stumbling-block of the world. The world cannot go further nor faster nor higher until it has brought up the rearguard.”[x] Patricia Pulham cites this speech as containing “sentiments which are clearly visible in Women and Economics, and […] would have stuck a chord with Lee” for “the fundamental link between the two women lies in their humanist convictions.” In economic terms, the Woman Question cannot be resolved by new markets or new and improved commodities alone. It must be understood in the context of human values.

Lee’s second major insight is more directly related to her own literary concerns in presenting female characters in her novels and short stories. She noted the one line in Women and Economics that brought about her “conversion” was “women are over-sexed.” This insight has, as I will argue, a direct bearing on Monna Maddalena in “A Wedding Chest,” for in that story which partially parodies the “masculinist” humanist rhetoric of late nineteenth-century art connoisseurship the plot in the narrative portion centers on an economic exchange that is replicated and re-circulated on the formal level (intratextual). The emphasis Lee places on the importance of literature as a vehicle for the expression of her newly embraced political values provides the link between art and life practice that Zorn identifies as a salient feature of Lee’s review. In “A Wedding Chest,” Monna Maddalena, the young motherless victim of rape becomes the embodiment of the historical “oversexed” femina that Lee sets out to destroy in her review article.[xi] Lee’s assertion that women are “over-sexed” means simply that they are

“first and foremost females, and then again females, and then—still more females […] that, instead of depending upon their intelligence, their strength, endurance, and honesty, they depend mainly upon their sex; that they appeal to men, dominate men through the fact of their sex; that (if the foregoing seems an exaggeration) they are economically supported by men because they are wanted as wives and mothers of children—that is to say, wanted for their sex.”[xii]

Monna Maddalena, whose fiancé Desiderio works for her father Piero as cassone artisan, is completely boxed into this sphere. As if to stress the point of her desirability, Monna’s fiancé is given the name Desiderio, meaning literally “I desire.”[xiii] Her momentary escape from this world will also be the occasion for her rape and eventual destruction. She is thus literally and figuratively trapped in the cassone/trousseau that will also become her coffin. That Lee was indeed preoccupied with misogynistic Italian Renaissance images of women is evident from her previous treatments of cassoni panels in “Ravenna and her Ghosts,” and in Renaissance Fancies and Studies.[xiv] In both of these texts she pays close attention to the interartistic relations between Boccaccio’s novellas in the Decameron and specific cassoni panels attributed to Botticelli Nastagio degli Onesti and Pinturicchio (“tale of Griseldis”) retelling these narratives through painting. Lee also demonstrates her familiarity with the circulation of these panels and cites the former as once in the possession of F.R. Leyland, while the latter panel is in the National Gallery.[xv]

The narrating voice in “A Wedding Chest” is that of a connoisseur of Tuscan cassone panels who is both sexless and impartial to the individual characters and their plights. The real hero is an objet d’art, a cassone panel from a wedding chest. The panel has survived the terrible events described in the narrative and now sits on display in a museum [Fig. 1].

Cassonehttp://www.metmuseum.org

Fig. 1 Cassone, 1461–65
Marco del Buono Giamberti (Italian, Florentine, 1402–1489); Apollonio di Giovanni di Tomaso (Italian, Florentine, 1414/17–1465), Italian (Florence)
Painted and gilded gesso on poplar, set with a wooden panel painted in tempera and gold; 39 1/2 x 77 x 32 7/8 in. (100.3 x 195.6 x 83.5 cm)
John Stewart Kennedy Fund, 1913 (14.39)

The cassone panel is what Lee would refer to as a “culture ghost.” Vineta Colby, Lee’s most recent biographer, roughly defines a “culture ghost” as “set in Italy and centering on objects of art associated with a remote past.”[xvi] It is a survival from the past, a piece of an old chest that has been ripped off of an old wedding chest that once stood as a symbol for the traffic in women through Renaissance marriage rituals.[xvii] As art, it displays and mirrors the violence of that particular history and its “social aesthetics of rape.”[xviii] The survival of the panel as a fragment both records and reenacts that history while its presence in the museum also paradoxically provides the occasion for the story that is “A Wedding Chest.” For Lee, the late nineteenth-century connoisseurs and expatriates in Italy were also raping that country’s cultural heritage by exporting its art from its original home.[xix]

The story is dedicated “To Marie Spartali Stillman 1870-1904.” These dates evidently record the years of their friendship up to the time of the publication of Lee’s story. Spartali, a well-known painter of models and scenes in the style of the Pre-Raphaelites appealed to Lee’s visual taste. That taste is reflected in “A Wedding Chest,” which also calls to mind Francesco Matarazzo’s Chronicles of the City of Perugia (1492-1503), Boccaccio’s Decameron, and the historiographers of her own time (J. A. Symonds, Burckhardt, de Sanctis, and Pasquale Villari). More than likely, Spartali’s painting The Enchanted Garden of Messr Ansaldo (1889) [Figs. 2 and 3] directly inspired Lee’s story.

A Florentine Lily, by Marie Spartali Stillman“A Florentine Lily” (1890), Marie Spartali Stillman (1843-1927)www.erasofelegance.com/…/stillman9th.jpg

The Enchanted Garden of Messr Ansalso

“The Enchanted Garden of Messr Ansaldo” (1889), by Marie Spartali Stillmanhttp://www.goldsilverwholesale.com/photo/big/Stillman-Marie-Spartali/Stillman-Marie-Spartali-The-Enchanted-Garden-of-Messer-Ansaldo.jpg

In Limbo and Other Essays (1897) Lee had mentioned this particular work admiring its rich depiction of “an incident from the Decameron in which Ansaldo attempts to seduce the (married) Dianora by magically turning winter into summer.”[xx] Spartali painted portraits and scenes from the Italian Renaissance in the Pre-Raphaelite style. In particular Lee’s garden in “A Wedding Chest” where Desiderio buries the cassone containing the murdered Monna Maddalena bears a resemblance to the description of Spartali’s painting in Limbo.

The first section of “A Wedding Chest” is a fictional museum card describing the panel pertaining to the museum inventory list:

“No. 428. A panel (five feet by two feet three inches) formerly the front of a cassone or coffer, intended to contain the garments and jewels of a bride. Subject: ‘The Triumph of Love.’ ‘Umbrian school of the Fifteenth century.’ In the right hand corner is a half-effaced inscription: Desider…de Civitate Lac…me…ecit. This valuable painting is unfortunately much damaged by damp and mineral corrosives, owing probably to its having contained at one time buried treasure. Bequeathed in 1878 by the widow of the Rev. Lawson Stone, Late Fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge.”

This striking opening places the reader in the field of vision, not quite looking at the object (the “culture ghost”), but preparing for what Lee calls “the empathic experience.”[xxi] Clearly Lee’s attitude toward the museum is ambivalent for while on one the hand she spent countless hours in art galleries observing painting, sculpture, and other works of art, she also frequently mentions her dislike of the methods used to procure such inventories. For her, the museum gallery became a place to experiment with the psychological effects that art would have on the beholder.[xxii] The placement of the viewer’s body before the art object is crucial to an understanding of how Lee supports her transition from physiological to psychological adjustments that occur in aesthetic consumption.[xxiii] By placing the reader in this way before the museum card she creates a distancing or alienation effect that alerts the reader to the doubly-encoded work while preparing them for the narrative that follows.

This crucial distinction between passive surrender and collaboration grounds the aesthetic experience in the realm of human values allowing the beholder to feel into the art object, the very project of empathy theory. This definition of “empathy” also retains the original and untranslatable sense of the German word Einfühlung. By retaining these various levels of art consumption, Lee introduces a complex theory of art appreciation that extends to consciousness of production and consumption.[xxiv] On the second level which involves an understanding of how the cassone panel came to reside in the fictional museum, Lee reminds the reader that art objects don’t just appear there but must come from somewhere else. It is this process that entails an understanding of both production and consumption, and by drawing attention to it Lee is able to create a parody of the process of art connoisseurship in the late nineteenth century.

In order to sense Lee’s subtle use of parody in the opening of “A Wedding Chest” it is important to understand how the experience of beholding art objects in a museum differs when one approaches it with empathy. Lee’s presentation of the cassone catalogue number, its subject matter, and the footnote with the location, evokes the commonplace approach to gallery visitation where the spectator merely sees the art object as a display of national, class, or private wealth. In The Political Economy of the Sign, Jean Baudrillard emphasizes this distinction by noting that “the museum acts as the guarantee for the aristocratic […] exchange […] just as a gold bank […] is necessary in order that the circulation of capital and private speculation be organized, so the fixed reserve of the museum is necessary for the functioning of the sign exchange of paintings.”[xxv] A mere fragment from an original piece of Tuscan domestic furniture hardly qualifies as an awe-inspiring display of national wealth. Lee’s choice of a small panel from humble origins in the context of the museum as symbol of national wealth is a parody of the value system that underwrites the social aesthetic.

Lee’s “No. 428” then is part of the reserve of a fictional museum, the museum mentioned in the footnote “Catalogue of the Smith Museum, Leeds.” By separating the location of the art object from its catalogue description through a footnote, Lee is parodying the citational practices of art connoisseurs as well. Lee in fact was no stranger to parody. Dennis Denisoff notes in Aestheticism and Sexual Parody: 1840-1940 that her first novel Miss Brown (1884), “critiques the more popular form of aestheticism as socially debilitating. She then offers a virtuous model of lesbian desire which personifies an empathic, feminist aestheticism that condemns exclusionary attitudes in general, whether they are held by supporters or critics of aestheticism, whether they are based on aesthetic or gendered essentialism.”[xxvi]

The connoisseurs who facilitated the mass transport of art are hereby reckoned with in Lee’s subtle allusion to the de-contextualized object on display. Connoisseurship is above all interested in the “lure” of the art, its distinguishing characteristics and its identification within a complex network of signs.[xxvii] Its role in economics is ensured by its production of consumable works that join a hierarchical classification (the museum inventory) in a homologous relation to the bank reserve Baudrillard describes. By identifying what will be constituted as art (the “real thing”), the connoisseur is granted social distinction and lucrative financial rewards.

In March, 1903, The Burlington Magazine published its inaugural issue with a lead article “Alunno di Domenico,” by Bernard Berenson. Lee met the twenty-four year old Berenson when he first arrived in Florence with a letter of introduction. She promptly introduced him to her circle of intellectual acquaintances and helped to secure him a niche in her Florentine social circuit. By 1897 however, she fell out with him over his paranoid accusations that she plagiarized him in publishing her theory of empathy in the Contemporary Review (October-November, 1897). By 1903 Berenson was well on his way to financial success as a renowned connoisseur, and his article prominently placed in the first run of the Burlington, assured him status. It is very possible that Lee had read Berenson’s article since she frequented the same social circles and maintained a close correspondence with Berenson’s wife Mary Costelloe.

Berenson’s 1903 article discusses the identification and attribution of cassone panels ascribed to an unknown student of Domenico Ghirlandaio (1449-1494). The art connoisseurship discourse he uses is in marked contrast to that of the narrator in Lee’s “A Wedding Chest.” The citation practice and attention to detail in Lee’s short story also differs from Berenson’s article. Where Berenson’s discourse is methodical, scientific, and authoritative, Lee’s is fanciful, imaginative, and descriptive. What they have in common is their subject matter for both are concerned with cassoni panels. Lee’s parody of Berenson is carried out through a simultaneous use of understatement and embellishment. Where Berenson cites a string of catalogue numbers for different cassone panels, Lee’s story has only No. 428. Finally, Berenson lends his critical attention to the precision of characteristics attributable to particular schools and artists while nothing is said about the social or cultural contexts of the panels under discussion. In Lee’s short story, the socio-historical is paramount and the ekphrastic section rich in detail contrasts remarkably with Berenson’s single interest in establishing the authorial origin of the panels.

What is unique about Lee’s writing, and this will be attested in my analysis of the second section of her story, is the particular use she makes of what I will call the “economics of ekphrasis.” This term from Wendy Steiner’s article “The Causes of Effect: Edith Wharton and the Economics of Ekphrasis” suggests that Wharton’s use of ekphrasis in The House of Mirth (1905) has more than a “purely aesthetic function.” Steiner charts “the role of ekphrasis in the novelistic clash between capitalist and aristocratic ideals,” and as I will argue by extension, ekphrasis also doubles as economic and artistic discourse in Lee’s short story. Circulating as art objects, the women in Wharton and Lee’s novels and short stories function as ornaments. Steiner notes “the problem of the ornamental is that it stands outside the realm of practical contingency. At the same time, as Judith Fetterly points out, “the ornamental cannot exist without a solid economic base…”[xxviii] By raising the aesthetic topos of ekphrasis to the level of economic discourse, Steiner allows Wharton’s novel to critique the “cause” (capitalism) that turns women in these novels into “effects.” Exploiting the ekphrastic genre of art description as a purely ornamental and useless detail to the narrative of her short story allows Lee to insert a sharp and incisive critique of the historical misogynistic practice known as “the traffic in women.” By extension, insofar as it ignores the socio-historical aspects of the art objects, connoisseurship practice also participates in the production of art for consumers who continue to ignore the stories things tell.

Since “A Wedding Chest” is an ekphrastic work, it is necessary to identify the particular art object Lee describes. The panel is fictive; it is what John Hollander refers to as a “notional ekphrasis,” the description of an imaginary work of art.[xxix] Again, Lee has chosen to highlight the discursive practices of connoisseurship by detaching them from any context at all. By imagining “a” wedding chest with no specific referent, Lee is perhaps critiquing the emptiness of scientific connoisseurship, its a-historicity. During the late-nineteenth, Victorians cultivated a mania for cassoni. The demand for these objects is rather difficult to explain since the chests themselves were not the focus of attention but rather the richly decorated panels that ornamented their sides. As an effect of the Risorgimento the British interest in things Italian had since mid-century become something of a national pastime. As Ellen Callmann explains, “One is forced to conclude that during the second half of the nineteenth century and the early years of the twentieth, when the mania for collecting cassoni was at its height, the main bodies of Florentine Renaissance chests were discarded with ruthless abandon.”[xxx] Lee’s story mirrors this process exactly since her panel, which originally belonged to a complete chest (Monna Maddalena’s coffin) reflects in a horrific way the biography of her “culture-ghost.” Monna Maddalena as a character doubles with the art object and continues to circulate in the very economic system that has always trafficked women as art and gold.  In this way Monna Maddalena can be likened to what Mary O’Connor describes as a Bakhtinian chronotope, a woman among the domestic objects.

By borrowing Bakhtin’s method of constructing a chronotope in which ‘time, as it were, thickens, takes on flesh, becomes artistically visible [and] space becomes charged and responsive to the moments of time, plot and history […] A materialist analysis of the world of objects […] must have a reading of what is usually repressed: the world of women.[xxxi]

The gendering of Monna Maddalena and the cassone, fusing them together into a chronotope, undermines patriarchy by exposing its mechanisms. The descriptive and ornamental ekphrastic section also contributes to the gendering of the formal aspects of the story.

The ekphrasis combines the styles of Giorgio Vasari’s Lives of the Most Eminent Painters, Sculptors, and Architects (1550) with that of the familiar language of the connoisseur. The idea of the cassone as a coffin may have been suggested to Lee by Vasari’s description of such items in his brief biography of the painter Dello Delli:

[T]he citizens of those times used to have in their apartments great wooden chests in the form of a sarcophagus, with the covers shaped in various fashions, and there were none that did not have the said chests painted […] And the stories that were wrought on the front were for the most part fables taken from Ovid and from other poets, or rather stories related by the Greek and Latin historians, and likewise chases, jousts, tales of love, and other similar subjects, according to each man’s particular pleasure.[xxxii]

Lee’s familiarity with Vasari is attested in her many articles and books on the Italian Renaissance in which she draws careful distinctions and interpretations from his Le vite de più eccellenti pittori, scultori ed architettori. Vasari’s comparison of the cassone with a sarcophagus not only describes the narrative trajectory of No. 428, but it also stands as a chilling reminder of the brief and often unhappy lives of its owners. Notably in the first paragraph of “A Wedding Chest” the narrator is so fluent in the language of the classics that Vasari himself is almost outdone:

The said Desiderio had represented upon this panel the Triumph of Love, as described in his poem by Messer Francesco Petrarca of Arezzo, certainly, with the exception of that of Dante, who saw the vision of Hell, Purgatory, and Paradise, the only poet of recent times who can be compared to those doctissimi viri P. Virgilius, Ovidius of Sulmona, and Statius. And the said Desiderio had betaken himself in this manner.[xxxiii]

All the beauty of the object is in its outward adorning and ornament. The cassone itself is not for Monna Maddalena at all but for a family member of the story’s villain, Troilo Baglioni. Desiderio paints an image of himself among the happy lovers in one of the four painted sections of the cassone. Troilo, upon his own request, is placed among the unhappy lovers as “Troilus, the son of Priam.”

Certain phrases in Lee’s story also deliberately evoke the boy-worship of the Oxford enclaves of Wilde and Lord Alfred Douglas which Berenson frequented:

in the middle of the panel Desiderio had represented Love, even as the poet has described: a naked youth, with wings of wondrously changing colours, enthroned upon a chariot, the axles and wheels of which were red gold, and breathing fire from the nostrils.

Lee’s description of the naked youth, the androgynous villain Troilo Baglioni, and the golden wheels that carry him, parodies the aesthetes through the suspension of narrative.[xxxiv] The golden axles and wheels that carry the chariot along are here arrested with the suspended narrative. Jonathan Freedman notes in his study of Henry James and British aestheticism that

[its] tendency toward ekphrasis, its habit of creating verbal descriptions of visual works of art […] would seem to resolve aestheticism’s double attitude toward time. These verbal fictions attempt to claim as their own the ability that the nineteenth century defined, after Lessing, as visual art’s defining characteristic: its ability to freeze action, its existence in a state of perpetual—and silent—stasis. Ekphrastic verbal fictions, it would seem, thus successfully achieve the kind of synthesis aestheticism yearns for. They seem to bring the perfect moment into a world of temporality, to create timeless icons in the very medium that seem bound most irrevocably to time.[xxxv]

Ekphrasis economizes time by freezing into “still moments” the temporal continuity generally expected of narrative. Here however, Lee has taken over this use of ekphrasis and mined its potential for an altogether different purpose.

Though often forgotten, Vernon Lee was one of the first to note the highly gendered versions of ekraphistic works among the aesthetes. Her character Walter Hamlin in Miss Brown is modeled after Dante Gabriel Rossetti and can be read as a forerunner in the critical exploration of this theme.[xxxvi] Rossetti, poet-painter of the gold-framed and gold-embossed pictures of the Virgin Mary, The Girlhood of Mary Virgin (1848-9) and Ecce Ancilla Domine (1849-50) is parodied as a Pygmalion figure “discovering” and “rescuing” the eponymous heroine Miss Brown [Fig. 4]. Catherine Golden, in “Dante Gabriel Rossetti’s two-sided art,” argues that “the presence of the written text on the frame/canvas ‘ensures that the reader/viewer readily apprehends both the literal and symbolic sides of a subject’: that the physical and erotic beauty which dominates when the text is read atextually, is tempered by its mythic associations.”[xxxvii]

Ecce Ancilla Domini

Ecce Ancilla Domini (1850) Dante Gabriel Rossetti

http://www.artchive.com/viewer/z.html

Freedman’s “temporal argument” then is not the only strategy used for ekphrasis in aestheticism. As Wendy Steiner has shown in her study, “Lily Bart, presents herself, and is taken by others, as a work of art […] a strange amalgam of creator and creation, agent and object. Lily’s name enhances this ambiguity.”[xxxviii] Lily’s predicament, as Steiner recognizes, is that her association with the ornamental (“the lily was a central design element in art nouveau”) creates a double-bind wherein the highly gendered essentialism of aestheticism freezes representations of women, precisely the activity Vernon Lee deplores, critiques, and parodies in her own work. Steiner notes the episode of Lily Bart’s tableau vivant of Reynold’s portrait of Mrs. Lloyd and demonstrates how the “stopped-action” effect of ekphrasis freezes Lily’s image into the novel: “Lily’s tableau makes her a pure, beautiful visual object, cut off from the world of causality and contingency.”[xxxix] In her development of Monna Maddalena, Lee creates a character that becomes completely fused into the art object itself. As a virgin, Monna Maddalena’s name foretells her destiny in the story; what happens to lilies when they are spoiled.

Adrienne Munich has drawn attention to this phenomenon in her seminal essay “What Lily Knew: Virginity in the 1890’s.” Drawing on a wide variety of artistic and literary works from this period, Munich shows for example, how Wilde’s Salomé “recognizes the economics of virginity as morally and monetarily valuable. Like money it supports the sexual economy; it is a nothing that fuels sexual exchange.”[xl] Henry James’s Maisie from What Maisie Knew “like Salome, becomes a counter in the sexual economy […] James has gilded the lily. Maisie the virgin with gold is Virgin of the Gilded Age.”[xli] Interestingly, Munich shows how the dual aspect of this floral symbolism operates: “it would be useful to keep in mind the sexual ambiguity of the symbol, a symbol that frequently has as its subtext a distaste for loss of virginity by heterosexual means.”

Munich’s observations on Rossetti’s Ecce Ancilla Domini stress the symbolism of the embroidered lily panel at the foot of the bed on which Mary cowers as the angel Gabriel approaches: “a disconcertingly corporeal Gabriel proffers a lily to Rossetti’s Virgin in a symbolic acting out of the moment of conception. Gabriel’s lily, a sign of the virgin, as the instrument of conception, becomes also phallic. Symbol of both virginity and divine phallic power, the lily can make things happen.”[xlii]

Vernon Lee uncannily presaged Munich’s observations in her 1895 essay “The Imaginative Art of the Renaissance.” Tracing the evolution of representations of the Virgin Mary from the Italian Renaissance to the nineteenth century, she writes:

A satisfactory study of the lack of all dramatic invention of the painters of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries is afforded by the various representations of the Annunciation of the Virgin, one of the favorite themes of the Renaissance. It never seems to have occurred to anyone that the Virgin and the Archangel might be displayed otherwise than each in one corner of the picture. Such a composition as that of Rossetti’s Ancilla Domini [sic], where the virgin cowers on her bed as the angel floats in with flames round his feet; such a suggestion as that of the unfinished lily on the embroidery frame, was reserved for our skeptical and irreverent, but imaginative times.[xliii]

Here Lee points out her familiarity with the sexual codes of her own time while in “A Wedding Chest” she will extend this knowledge to a full-blown parody of the practice of art connoisseurship.

Lee takes advantage of this opportunity to launch into another characteristic parody of Rossetti as she fancies that the Virgin “has been waiting for some time […] and that the angel has come by appointment.” Munich’s observations of the seminal symbolism in the proffered lily are also remarked by Marc Shell in his study of the economics of Art and Money[xliv].

The Annunciation

  1. The “Annunciation” (1333), Simone Martini. Described in Lee’s essay “The Imaginative Art of the Renaissance.”

Writing of Simone Martini’s (1284-1344) Annunciation (1333) [Fig. 5] in which “divine chrysographic letters inseminate the Virgin Mary through the ear” prompts his thesis about “the interaction between economic and aesthetic symbolization and production.” Simone Martini’s Virgin is painted upon a bed of gold foil suggesting to both Lee and Shell a “gross expenditure” (Shell) and “ornamental decoration” (Lee). This reading of the Virgin and the lilies on richly gilded backgrounds suggests further, the alloyed symbolism of gold and virginity evoked by Munich. The combination of lilies as virgins and Florentine mercenary cash perpetuates the ideology which enabled the commidifying of virginity for a price: the price of a lily.

The price paid for the virgin lily in Lee’s short story is the gold Florentine currency. This prompts further reflection on how currency operates in the Victorian code language. In his study, Shell emphasizes the homology between the gold used in Byzantine icons and its mutation in Renaissance paintings into increasing associations with material wealth. When he discusses John Ruskin’s Munera Pulveris (1872) he notes that the time-honored association of literary or plastic artist and gold suddenly slips into a series of contradictions.[xlv] Ruskin at one time identifies the artist as gold, and at another the goldsmith who works upon gold. These different approaches to the symbolism of gold diverge suggesting at one point that the artists as the gold wealth of a nation are its reserve, and at another that attachment to gold leads one inevitably to death.

Catherine Gallagher has also profited from Ruskin’s association of gold and death in her “bioeconomic” reading of Dickens’s Our Mutual Friend.[xlvi] In the opening scene of that novel, when Gaffer dregs a dead body out of the murky Thames, the question is asked “Can the dead possess property?”  Gaffer makes his living by rummaging for coins through the pockets of the drowned. In a scene strangely reminiscent of Gaffer’s profession, Henry James’s Spencer Brydon in “The Jolly Corner” (1908), upon returning to his long neglected childhood home which he describes as a “gold-mine” of real estate, ultimately rejects milking the ghost-infested place saying “There are no reasons here but of dollars. Let us therefore have none whatever—not the ghost of one.”[xlvii] Here the Ruskinian problematic association of gold wealth and death survives into the Gilded Age through the ghosts of James’s Fifth Avenue. What I am suggesting here is that Lee like James and Wharton is exploiting this coded language of gold and lilies to much profit in their own narratives. Lee however uses it to parody the very process of exchange that guarantees the traffic in women.

Lee, well aware of Ruskin’s pitfalls, his contradictions aside, embraced certain of his critical insights after his death in 1900.[xlviii] Above all, it will become apparent that in “A Wedding Chest” she has come to realize the strange ambivalent nature of the artist that Ruskin saw as inevitable. Ironically, Lee’s “return” to Ruskin coincides both with her break with Berenson and her “conversion” to the Woman Question. In her short story she shows a clear grasp of at least one “Ruskinian” element, that the ethics underlying women’s oppression is inextricably linked to the exchangeability of women’s bodies as commodities. Though she will have none of his elaborate argument for the supposed separate spheres, she uses his ambivalence to sustain a remarkably clear critique of the process that grounds the profits of art connoisseurship.

It is particularly the treatment of the exchange of gold for art, and by implication, gold for the female body that responds to the internal circulation of tropes in “A Wedding Chest.” The ekphrasis, which in the opening section responds to the initial invitation to look and to gaze, now turns to a similar circulation in the events of the narrative. Historian Elizabeth S. Cohen, in her article “No Longer Virgins: Self-Presentation by Young Women in Late Renaissance Rome,” has pointed out that in the Italian Renaissance

“sexuality, and specifically virginity, figured importantly in the social process through which identity was worked out […] fittingly, a common colloquialism for sexual intercourse was negotiare, [to negotiate] from the family of words for doing business or selling things. Although such vocabulary should not lead us to interpret all sexual activity in the period as consciously mercenary or loveless, we should realize that sexuality served as a medium of exchange […] Virginity under such a regime resembled a commodity, pricey because difficult to keep.”[xlix]

The narrative portion of Lee’s highly structured short story is the third section in my analysis. At the center of “A Wedding Chest” all the crucial elements of the parody come together in the plotting of the economics of women’s oppression negotiated through the symbol of its most pricey and “contested commodity.”[l] The villain of this story is the young bastard scion of the infamous condotierri family of Perugia, Messer Troilo Baglioni: “And Messer Troilo was twenty-six years old, but seemed much younger, having no beard, and a face like Hyacinthus or Ganymede, whom Jove stole to be his cup-bearer, on account of his beauty.”[li] Lee’s floral language extends thus to her charming rogue whose characteristics are remarkably similar to those attributed to Bernard Berenson. Michael Field (Katherine Bradley and Edith Cooper), who entertained a close relationship with Berenson for many years, referred to him affectionately as “Faun.” Martha Vicinus, in her study of their relationship notes that before he came to meet them

Berenson was already stereotyped as half-feminine and half-demonic, and he only intermittently struggled against the role. He frequently characterized himself as a highly sensitive, feminized receptor of impressions. The opening lines of his autobiography declare his feminine, maternal nature […] his curly dark, hair, close-trimmed beard, and beautiful hands and feet gave him a youthful, androgynous appearance.[lii]

The androgynous Messer Troilo in Lee’s story, with his elegant attire and excellent taste, his privileged stance in the Baglioni family as their favored bastard is accompanied by his access to extreme amounts of gold wealth. This characteristic is also central to a correct understanding of Berenson’s involvement in the art world from the beginning. Berenson’s biographer Ernest Samuels writes of the young Berenson who came to Florence in search of culture and found wealth:

Berenson could hardly say that he had not been warned of the perils that lay in wait for the connoisseur, of the endless vendettas and the rivalries that seethed beneath the surface of the art world, in which no quarter was asked or given. Nowhere else did the cash nexus and the pride of possession so infect its participants as in the traffic of art. With so much money at stake for others as well as for himself, the conscientious art critic had to make his way along the razor’s edge of probity.[liii] [Italics mine].

As Lee observed Berenson’s drift into that world of dealing and money grabbing in the first decade of the twentieth century, she must have wondered what had happened to the twenty-four year old young man she had met in 1889 who was only interested in writing about art. Bearing in mind these close associations between the antagonist of Lee’s story and her real life nemesis, we can begin to see how she drew closely on her observations of this character for her parody.

Swept into the world of high finance, conspicuous consumption, and profiteering, Berenson makes an excellent candidate. The story begins in Ser Piero Bontempi’s cassone workshop where his employee, Desiderio of Castiglione del Lago, fiancé of Ser Piero’s only daughter Monna Maddalena, has just completed the front panel of a wedding chest. Troilo comes often to the shop to see the progress of Desiderio’s work. On these visits he begins to watch Monna Maddalenna and asks Desiderio to include her portrait on the cassone panel. Desiderio refuses the request[liv] saying that it is not proper that chaste damsels (virgins) should be seen by the eyes of strange men. The narrator tells us that this is not quite true for Desiderio had often painted Monna Maddalenna “in the figure of Our Lady, the Mother of God,” as if to emphasize and beatify Monna Maddalenna’s virginity. When the wedding chest is finished, Messr Troilo has very carefully chosen the occasion when he will pay for it and carry it away. We learn that he has also planned Monna Maddalenna’s abduction on St. John’s Eve (June 23), the night of her nuptials. Lee combines in a single sentence this discovery of the true identity of Troilo as a rapist, and the price he is willing to pay for the cassone: “So, a week after, having fetched away the wedding chest from Ser Piero’s workshop (paying for it duly in Florentine lilies), he seized the opportunity of the festivities of St. John’s Nativity […] in order to satisfy his cruel wishes.”[lv]

In this sentence, the fetching away of the cassone from the property of Ser Piero Bontempi, is analogous to the abduction of Monna Maddalenna. The unspecified price Messer Troilo Baglioni pays for the cassone (“paying for it duly in Florentine lilies”) is deliberately left parenthetical by Lee as I shall argue. It is important to note also the deliberateness of the analogy between the abduction of Monna Maddalenna and the purchase of the cassone for in the remainder of the story, the two are fused together reminding us that the circulation of the art object as a form of wealth (its later appearance in the Smith Museum, Leeds) is homologous to the suppression, oppression, and traffic of women.

In “The Traffic in Women,” Gayle Rubin asserts that the traffic in women is the oppression of women. “The traffic of women is the use of women as exchangeable, perhaps symbolic, property for the primary purpose of cementing the bonds of men with men.”[lvi] The fusing of Monna Maddalenna’s body with the cassone, a traditional symbol of both “gift-giving” between families and marriage, allows Lee to enact in the register of the literary, the exchange of a virgin as symbolic property between men.[lvii] The gold Florentine lilies exchanged for the body of Monna Maddalenna becomes the material embodiment of the transaction at the workshop; a chronotope at the intersection of cash and virginity, cassone “No. 428.” It sits on display in Lee’s “notional” museum forming part of the “fixed reserve […] necessary for the functioning of the sign exchange of paintings” (Baudrillard).[lviii]

The significance of the Florentine lily as the price Troilo is willing to pay for the cassone and the body of Monna Maddalenna may be referred to in Derrida’s terms as an aporia, in the sense of an impassible contradiction inherent in the logic of the metaphysics used to describe an economic exchange over a contested commodity. The historical Florentine lily, the gold coin that underwrote the entire economic system of Renaissance history has two sides. Lee’s careful observation of dates refers to the exergues on either side of the Florentine lily. The date chosen for Monna Maddalenna’s abduction is the eve of the nativity of St. John the Baptist, and that which is to be abducted is the virgin/lily herself. On one side of the coin in question may be found the symbol of Florence; a lily, and on the obverse the patron saint of Florence, St. John the Baptist, nimbate[lix] and holding a staff [Fig 5].  Fiorin doro 2

This coin type continued to be struck unaltered until the rise of the Medici in 1505 (shortly after the date corresponding to Lee’s painted cassone panel).[lx]

Lee’s interest in numismatics started at a very early age. Vineta Colby records her early days in Rome with her brother and the young John Singer Sargent:

In the dusty streets the children collected shards and scraps of what they liked to believe were antique Roman coins and artifacts. Already fired with the instinct of a scholar, Violet polished her coins in the hope of finding an effigy of Nero or Marcus Aurelius and fulfilled her family’s expectations of a prodigy by producing her first publication at the age of fourteen. Written in French […] this was the story told as the biography of an ancient coin, Les Aventures d’une pièce de monnaie, published serially in the Lausanne journal La Famille in May, June, and July, 1870. The narrator is a coin bearing the effigy of the emperor Hadrian that passes through history from the golden age of the Roman Empire […] it survives into the Renaissance […] into the eighteenth century it passes through the hands of the boy wonder Mozart when he performs in Rome; and it ends finally in the collection of a modern numismatist…[lxi]

Though Lee’s childhood interest in coins is evident in her lifetime interest in the materiality of literature, it is also remarkable that during the period under investigation here, she has transformed those interests into a work of art which reflects her own “political economy” of the “traffic in women.”

The reverse of the fiorino d’oro shows the symbol of Florence, the lily, which refers to the remarkable fusion of ancient mythology and “the survival of the ancient gods in Christian times.”

fiorin doro

All of Lee’s “hauntings” demonstrate the powerful effect of Walter Pater’s adaptation of Heinrich Heine’s concept of the “exile of the Gods” and her deep interest in the mutations of symbols and types into new forms. Whether she is treating coins, paintings, sculptures, or music there is always the “culture ghost” inspiring each imaginative piece with novelty and suggestiveness.[lxii] In “A Wedding Chest” the fiorino d’oro that purchases Monna Maddalena, achieves the full “effect” (in Steiner’s sense) of the spell of ideology. What Steiner writes of Lily Bart is also true of Monna Maddalena, for “in that system of values she cannot be a transcendent love object if her beauty is merely the coin that buys her…” As “a mono-functional creature, a pure ornament, unsullied by vulgar or immoral associations” Monna Maddalena is the exact correlate of Lee’s description of “femina” as “over-sexed.”[lxiii]

A strange twist occurs in Lee’s short story which I argue causes and fuels the logical aporia at its heart. Lee is always at pains to explain how at the epicenter of great art and civilization such terrible cruelty and evil can coexist with beauty. Like Wofford’s “social aesthetics of rape” discussed above, Lee’s preoccupation with the mixture of beauty and evil will define the thesis of her historiography of the Italian Renaissance.[lxiv] The story seems to have no ultimate answer to these problems. As the narrative finally progresses, Messr Troilo abducts, rapes and kills Monna Maddalenna, returning her dead body and that of her bastardina a year later enclosed in the same cassone, now serving as her coffin. The only justice served in the story is Desiderio’s retribution, or lex talionis. Desiderio follows Troilo relentlessly in a chase that brings to mind Dickens’s Our Mutual Friend with Bradley Headstone out after Eugene Wrayburn.[lxv] Tracking Troilo down in the city of Perugia as the young man is on his way to a visit to a courtesan, Desiderio slays him in the street. Even here Lee’s historical detail serves her interest in the economics of women’s oppression by insisting that the only just literary retribution is a life for a life. Desiderio’s murder of Troilo Baglioni is an example of lex talionis with priestly absolution prevailing over wergild, or monetary compensation for a previous crime.[lxvi] When he slays Troilo, Desiderio says: “This is from Maddalena, in return for her wedding chest!”[lxvii]

Ultimately a cost/benefit analysis of rape will not serve justice because the value of a body is not inalienable from the body itself. As Georg Simmel observed in The Philosophy of Money, the gradual historical shift of the concept of wergild (“blood money”) whereby the new formulation “became an expression of the objective value of the person… their value is, as it were, embodied in themselves as an objective quality expressible in money”[lxviii] More recently Margaret Radin, analyzing the “market rhetoric” of Richard Posner notes that he “does not cite as an objection the idea that the purported pleasures of the rapist should not count at all, because this argument is not cognizable within the framework of market rhetoric. Rape is no different from any other preference satisfaction.”[lxix] Posner’s cost/benefit analysis promotes an analysis of rape that sadly shows how relatively little has changed since the Renaissance “social aesthetic of rape.” Though Lee’s story is an incredibly accurate description of the practices of connoisseurship that reflects the continuity of this aesthetic on the symbolic level, it comes close to articulating the ideas she treated formally in her review of Gilman’s Women and Economics.

I have suggested that Lee’s story may be read using the new economic criticism to demonstrate how the internal circulation of tropes may be read both formally and historically. Lee’s use of parody shows that she was not at all detached from the realities of her environment and was fully capable of responding to real events in her imaginative creations. Such a reading reflects the incommensurability of tropes of exchange with ethical values Lee came to hold after her engagement with the Woman Question. As Shell has observed, it becomes increasingly evident that questions of literary value are inextricable from economic analysis, and that, following Simmel, the logic of money with its polymorphous fluidity can be read both intratextually and extratextually.

In “The Economic Parasitism of Women,” Lee, perhaps with Rossetti’s virgins or her own Monna Maddalenna in mind, expressed the internal contradiction inherent in the economic oppression of women:

For one of the paradoxes of this most paradoxical question is precisely that, with all our literature about La Femme, and all our violent discussions, economical, physiological, psychological, sociological […] we do not really know what women are. Women, so to speak as a natural product, as distinguished from women as a creation of men…[lxx]

By insisting that women must be put back into the equation of the separate spheres, both Gilman and Lee participate in that calculation. Lee’s Monna Maddalenna is a literary construct that embodies her deep ambivalence about “La Femme.”


[i] Shell, Marc. 1982. Money, Language and Thought. Literary and Philosophical Economies from the Medieval to the Modern Era. Berkley, Los Angeles, and London: University of California Press. 3.

[ii] Simmel, Georg. 1978. The Philosophy of Money. trans. Bottmore, Tom and David Frisby. London, Henley, and Boston: Routledge and Kegan Paul. Quoted in Marc Shell, 4.

[iii] Lee, Vernon. 2006. Hauntings and Other Fantastic Tales. Ed. Maxwell, Catherine and Patricia Pulham. Ontario: Broadview Editions. 229-242.

[iv] Woodmansee, Martha. 1999. “Taking Account of the New Economic Criticism.”  The New Economic Criticism. Studies at the Intersection of Literature and Economics. Ed. Woodmansee, Martha and Mark Osteen. London: Routledge. 36.

[v] Pulham, Patricia. 2003. “A Transatlantic Alliance. Charlotte Perkins Gilman and Vernon Lee.”  Feminist Forerunners. New Womanism and Feminism in the Early Twentieth Century. Ed. Ann Heilmann. London, Sydney, Chicago: Pandora. 34-43.

[vi] Lee’s review originally bore the title “The Economic Dependence of Women,” and was subsequently published in the North American Review, (April, 1901). It was republished in her Gospels of Anarchy as “The Economic Parasitism of Women,” and reprinted in Critical Essays on Charlotte Perkins Gilman, ed. Joanne B. Karpinski. New York: G.K. Hall. 1992.

[vii] Weltman, Sharon Aronofsky. “Mythic Language and Gender Subversion. The Case of Ruskin’s Athena.” Nineteenth-Century Literature. 52: 3. (December  1997). The Regents of the University of California, 1997. 351. The literature on “separate spheres” is immense. Kate Millett made the original charge against Ruskin’s “spheres” that is used here. Millett, Kate 1970. Sexual Politics. New York: Doubleday. 93-4.

[viii] This phrase was noted by Richard Dellamora in “Productive Decadence: “The Queer Comradeship of Outlawed Thought”. Vernon Lee, Max Nordau, and Oscar Wilde.” New Literary History. 35: 4 (Autumn 2004).

[ix] Zorn, Christa. 2003. Vernon Lee. Aesthetics, History, and the Victorian Female Intellectual. Athens: Ohio University Press. 79. The complications with Lee’s “moral” interpretation are well presented and contextualized in Zorn’s study of Lee’s response to aestheticism.

[x] This speech delivered at the London Pavilion in 1913, was published in The Suffragette (6 June, 1913), see Patricia Pulham, “A Transatlantic Alliance,” 38

[xi] It is interesting in this light to compare the “portrait slashings” of Suffragettes like Mary Richardson who hacked at the Rokeby Venus in 1914 as a protest to the incarceration of Mrs. Pankhurst. While the outraged public viewed the act as an iconoclastic rage against art and the economics of the British public, those who could read Richardson’s choice of symbols recognized it as an attack on a social hierarchy of values. Thomas Otten cites this event as “viewership with a vengeance.” See Otten, Thomas J. 2000. “Slashing Henry James (On Painting and Political Economy, Circa 1900). The Yale Journal of Criticism. Vol. 13, No. 2. 293, 296-98. See also Otten, Thomas J. 2006. A Superficial Reading of Henry James. Preoccupations with the Material World. Columbus: Ohio State University Press.

[xii] Lee. “The Economic Dependence of Women.” 81

[xiii] Vicinus, Martha. 1994. “The Adolescent Boy: Fin de Siècle Femme Fatale?”  Journal of the History of Sexuality.  Vol. 5, No. 1 (Jul., 1994). 90-114. Vicinus suggests a “triangulation of desire” such that “the character’s names indicate their positions in the tragic triangle: the artisan lover who—like Vernon Lee—desires too strongly; the thieving Troilo who—like Vernon Lee—revenges himself upon husbands and fiancés; and the fair Maddalena, the unfortunate victim who—like Vernon Lee—never speaks.” (107) I disagree with the notion of Lee being “like” any of these characters, and especially with the notion that she “never speaks.” A reading of the story may bring to mind Eve Sedgwick’s particular use of Gayle Rubin’s critique of patriarchy in “the traffic in women” combined with Rene Girard’s “erotic triangles,” and Levi-Strauss’s analysis of kinship. Sedgwick, Eve Kossofsky.1985. Between Men. English Literature and Male Homosocial Desire. New York: Columbia University Press. 25-27

[xiv] Lee, Vernon (Sept. 1894) “The Ghosts of Ravenna.” Macmillan’s Magazine. LXX: 380. Lee, Vernon. 1895. Renaissance Fancies and Studies. Being a Sequel to Euphorion. London: Smith, Elder, & Co. 102-115. As always, Lee’s attitude is complex and ambivalent. It is more her identification of these works that counts rather than any overt critique or labeling of them as misogynistic. Lee is always guarded in her judgments of Italian Renaissance art and it would be anachronistic and insensitive to impute contemporary feminist strategies to her or expect her to have demonstrated the sophisticated critical maneuvers operating today.

[xv] Lee is of course correct about this for the three panels are “by Botticelli depicting the story of Nastagio degli Onesti told by Boccaccio in the Eight novel of the Fifth day in the Decameron […] they were acquired by Mr. Alexander Barker in 1868, passing in 1879 into the possession of Mr. F.R. Leyland, where they remained until his death in 1892 […] which have now entered the Prado […] bought by Don Francesco Cambó in May 1929.” “Alba.” “The Cambó Gift to the Prado Museum.” The Burlington Magazine for Connoisseurs, Vol. 80. No. 469, (April, 1942). 102-3

[xvi] Colby, Vineta. 2003.  Vernon Lee. A Literary Biography. Charlottesville and London: University of Virginia Press. 242-3.

[xvii] The literature in Italian Renaissance cassoni is immense. The recent criticism of Cristelle Baskins has focused attention on the importance of interpretation in engaging with the historical literature. Her essays and book read “against the grain” drawing heavily on recent feminist scholarship, gender criticism, and reception theory. See especially her instructive and helpful introductory remarks. Baskins, Cristelle L. 1998. Cassone Painting, Humanism, and Gender in Early Modern Italy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1-25.

[xviii] The “social aesthetics of rape” is Susanne L. Wofford’s term for the “closural violence” in Italian Renaissance “fictions and visual representations of marriage—not to mention the legal discourse and contractual statements—[which] often refer, albeit indirectly, to an underlying mythos which tells of the emergence of marriage, and, by extension, civilization, from violence, conquest and rape.” Wofford, Susanne L. 1992. “The Social Aesthetics of Rape: Closural Violence in Boccaccio and Botticelli.” in Creative Imitation. New Essays on Renaissance Literature in Honor of Thomas M. Greene. Binghamton, NY: Medieval and Renaissance Texts and Studies. 189.

[xix] Lee voices this opinion in her essay “Botticelli at the Villa Lemmi,” where she protests the removal of original Botticelli frescoes from a Tuscan farmhouse. Describing this as “modern Vandalism,” she complains of the “habit of removing works of art from their natural surroundings in order to place them in a kind of artificial stony Arabia of vacuity and ugliness. I should call this the modern gallery-and-concert tendency…a sort of triumph of civilization”   Lee, Vernon. 1887. Juvenilia. London: Unwin, vol. I: 125-127.

[xx] Marsh, Jan. 2003. “The Old Tuscan Rapture. The Response to Italy and its Art in the Work of Marie Spartali Stillman,” in Unfolding the South. Nineteenth-century British Women Writers and Artists in Italy. Eds. Chapman, Alison and Jane Stabler. Manchester and New York: Manchester University Press. 175.

[xxi] Lee’s “Gallery Diaries” are found in chapter five of her 1912, Beauty and Ugliness and Other Studies in Psychological Aesthetics. London and New York: John Lane, The Bodley Head. Lee had used this method in frequenting museums where she recorded her “gallery experiments” while monitoring the bodily responses of  Kit Anstruther-Thomson.

[xxii] From these exercises came her “psychological aesthetics,” which led to her theory of “aesthetic empathy”: “The idea that contemplation of a beautiful object elicits hidden motor adjustments in the viewer, an unconscious imitation of the form one sees and a projection of one’s bodily movements back onto it.” Maltz, Diana. 1999. “Engaging “Delicate Brains”. From Working-Class Enculturation to Upper Class Lesbian Liberation in Vernon Lee and Kit Anstruther-Thomson’s Psychological Aesthetics,” in Woman and British Aestheticism, ed. Schaeffer, Talia and Kathy Psomiades. Charlottesville and London: University Press of Virginia, 1999. 214. While I share Maltz’s definition of Lee’s earliest formulations of empathy, I do not agree that the theory is interchangeable with Grant Allen’s “physiological aesthetics” as Regenia Gagnier implies. A simplistic reduction does little to isolate Lee’s theory from the charge that it was a mere echo of Allen’s evolutionary psychology. Gagnier, Regenia. 2000.  The Insatiability of Human Wants. Economics and Aesthetics in Market Society. Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press. 139.

[xxiii] Nicole Fluhr has correctly observed that in all of Lee’s fictional writings her “aesthetic psychology” is applied to her short stories, as for example in her study of Lee’s Hauntings (1890). Quoting Royal Gettmann, Fluhr argues that “for Vernon Lee the crucial point of empathy is not projection,” as in the dictionary definition, “or feeling into,” as in the German term from which she coined the English word, “but a merging of the beholder and the object beheld. Empathy is neither egotistical absorption and projection nor a passive, empty surrender; it is collaboration.” Fluhr, Nicole. “Empathy and Identity in Vernon Lee’s Hauntings.” Victorian Studies. (Winter 2006) Fluhr quotes from Royal A. Gettmann’s critical introduction to Vernon Lee’s 1968,  Handling of Words and Other Studies in Literary Psychology. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press. xii. Gettmann tactfully rescues Lee’s theory from vulgar physiological aesthetics and also allows one to differentiate it from Bernard Berenson’s “tactile” or “ideated sensations.”

[xxiv] Regenia Gagnier’s asserts in the Insatiability of Human Wants that Lee’s “aesthetic experiments compromised the ethical aesthetics Lee had inherited from Ruskin and the missionary aesthetics the aristocratic Anstruther-Thomson had inherited from a tradition of woman’s philanthropy.” Yet a close reading of Lee’s own works from the period of her “conversion” to the Woman Question, and the evidence from her biographer’s suggests a rather different interpretation. In Beauty and Ugliness (1912) published with her “gallery experiments” Lee retracted much of the theory Gagnier refers to as “physiological.” What she retained in her theory after the 1890’s was the inseparability of empathy theory from the ethics of sympathy which connects art to life practice. Lee maintains a critical attitude toward Herbert Spencer and Grant Allen in her chapter “anthropomorphic aesthetics.” Lee, Vernon. 1912.  Beauty and Ugliness and Other Studies on Psychological Aesthetics. London and New York: John Lane, The Bodley Head. See also Shafquat Towhheed. “The Creative Evolution of Scientific Paradigms. Vernon Lee and the Debate over the Hereditary Transmission of Acquired Characters. Victorian Studies. (Autumn, 2006): 33-61.

[xxv] Baudrillard, Jean. 1981. The Political Economy of the Sign. trans. Charles Levin. New York: Telos Press Ltd., 121.

[xxvi] Denisoff, Dennis. 2006. Aestheticism and Sexual Parody: 1840-1940. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 31. In 1892, her novella “Lady Tal” parodied Henry James with its lead character the effeminate and pedantic Gervase Marion who refuses to collaborate on a literary project with the novel’s heroine. The publication of “Lady Tal” in her Vanitas: Polite Stories resulted in James’s cessation of communication with her just as Miss Brown had made Lee’s name anathema in certain aesthete circles in London.

[xxvii] For a discussion of the relationship between the art connoisseurship of Bernard Berenson and the “lure” of the fine arts, see Brewer John. 2005. “The Lure of Leonardo.” The Lure of the Object. (Clark Studies in the Visual Arts). Ed. Melville, Stephen. Clark Art Institute.

[xxviii] Steiner, Wendy. “The Cause of Effect: Edith Wharton and the Economics of Ekphrasis.” Poetics Today, 10:2 (Summer, 1989) 288.

[xxix] Hollander, John. 1995. The Gazer’s Spirit. Poems Speaking to Silent Works of Art. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. For Hollander, “notional ekphrasis” may describe as well, an entirely fictive and imaginary work of art that is treated as if it really existed. Both Lee’s cassone panels and her museum are fanciful inventions, “notional”. See also Hollander, John. “The Poetics of Ekphrasis.” Word & Image 4. (1988) 209-219.

[xxx] Callmann, Ellen. “William Blundell Spence and the Transformation of Renaissance Cassoni.” The Burlington Magazine, Vol. 141, No. 1155. (June 1999), 338-48.

[xxxi] O’Connor, Mary. 1990. “Chronotopes for Women under Capital. An Investigation into the Relation of Women to Objects.” Critical Studies. Vol. 2, No. 1/2. 138-9

[xxxii] Baskins, Cristelle L. 1998. Cassone Painting, Humanism, and Gender in Early Modern Italy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

[xxxiii] Lee, Vernon. “A Wedding Chest,” 230.

[xxxiv] Steiner, op. cit., 288.

[xxxv] Freedman, Jonathan.  1990. Professions of Taste: Henry James, British Aestheticism, and Commodity Culture, Stanford: Stanford University Press. 19.

[xxxvi] Psomiades, Kathy. 1997. Beauty’s Body: Femininity and Representation in British Aestheticism, Stanford: Stanford University Press. 165-77.

[xxxvii] Pearce, Lynne. 1991. Woman, Image, Text: readings in Pre-Raphaelite Art and Literature .Toronto and Buffalo: University of Toronto Press. 31. Golden, Catherine. “Dante Gabriel Rossetti’s two-sided art,” Victorian Poetry 26 (1988), 395-402.

[xxxviii] Steiner, op. cit., 280.

[xxxix] Steiner, op. cit., 290.

[xl] Auslander-Munich, Adrienne. 1993. “What Lily Knew: Virginity in the 1890’s,” in Virginal Sexuality and Textuality in Victorian Literature. Ed. Lloyd Davis. Albany, NY: State University of New York. 143-157.

[xli] Auslander-Munich, Adrienne. Op. cit., 154.

[xlii] Auslander-Munich, Adrienne. Op. cit., 144.

[xliii] Lee, Vernon. 1909. “Imaginative Art of the Renaissance.”  Renaissance Fancies and Studies. London and New York: John Lane, The Bodley Head. 85-6.

[xliv] Shell, Marc. 1995.  Art and Money. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. 4.

[xlv] “Ruskin and the Political Economy of Art,” in Shell, Marc. 1978.  The Economy of Literature. Baltimore and London: The John Hopkins University Press. 133.

[xlvi] Gallagher, Catherine. 2006. The Body Economic. Life, Death, and Sensation in Political Economy and the Victorian Novel. Princeton and Oxford: Princeton University Press. 86-94.

[xlvii] James, Henry. (1908), 2003. “The Jolly Corner.” Tales of Henry James, Eds. Wegelin, Christof and Henry B. Wonham. New York: W.W. Norton & Company. 347.

[xlviii] Lee’s early critical attitude is apparent in her essay “Ruskinism,” published in Belcaro; being Essays on Sundry Aesthetical Questions, (London: T. Fisher Unwin, 1887), 197-230. Vineta Colby documents her gradual acceptance of certain aspects of his philosophy after 1900.

[xlix] Cohen, Elizabeth S. 1991. “No Longer Virgins: Self-Presentation by Young Women in Late Renaissance Rome.” Refiguring the Renaissance: Perspectives on Gender and the Italian Renaissance. Eds. Migiel, Marilyn and Juliana Schiesari. Ithaca and London: Cornell University Press. 172.

[l] The phrase “contested commodity” is taken from Radin, Margaret. 1996.  Contested Commodities, Cambridge: Harvard University Press.

[li] Lee, Vernon. “A Wedding Chest”, op. cit., 241.

[lii] Vicinus, Martha. “’Sister Souls’: Bernard Berenson and Michael Field (Katherine Bradley and Edith Cooper),” Nineteenth-Century Literature, Vol. 60, No. 3, (Regents of the University of California: 2006). 329.

[liii] Samuels, Ernest. 1979. Bernard Berenson: The Making of a Connoisseur. Cambridge: Harvard University Press. 225.

[liv]  Lee is denying here Berenson’s pet assertion that Renaissance guild men never painted or created any work from their own “character, private opinions, or predilections.”  Berenson, Bernard. 1948. Aesthetics and History. London: Constable Publishers. 220.

[lv] “A Wedding Chest,” 235. In what follows I disagree with the editors of “A Wedding Chest” who note: “Florentine lilies, better known as a type of iris. The dried tubers are ground down to produce a scented powder known as orris root which is widely used in perfumery. This would have made them a valuable commodity.” (235 n.3) It is hard to imagine why the editors thought that Lee, who was an avid numismatist, would not be referring to the Florentine coin.

[lvi] Rubin, Gayle. 1975. “The Traffic in Women: Notes toward a ‘Political Economy’ of Sex.” Ed. Reiter, Rayna. Toward an Anthropology of Women. New York: Monthly Review Press. 157-210.

[lvii] The scholarship on the “traffic in women” in the Italian Renaissance period is too large to discuss here, but see Newman, Karen. “Directing Traffic: Subjects, Objects, and the Politics of Exchange,” Differences 2:2 (1990): 41-54; and Goux, Jean-Joseph. “The Phallus, Masculine Identity, and the ‘Exchange of Women,’ differences 4 (1992): 40-75.

[lviii] For a general survey of the poetics of ekphrasis as it relates to the paragon between word and image see Heffernan, James A. 1993.  Museum of Words: The Poetics of Ekphrasis form Homer to Ashberry. Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press.

[lix] “Nimbate” refers to a numismatic figure wearing a nimbus or halo surrounding the head.

[lx] Divo, Jean-Paul. “Short history of the fiorino d’oro,”: http://web.ticino.com

[lxi] Colby, Vineta. Vernon Lee, op. cit., 11.

[lxii] The lily which the Christian Florentines adapted from the Romans refers to the goddess Juno. While breast-feeding her son Hercules, a drop of milk fell and nourished the earth. The ancient Romans saw this as suggestive of purity and chastity, and when the painters of the Italian Renaissance saw their ancient beliefs living on in the image of the eternal Virgin Mary they were again moved to depict scenes of the Annunciation with the lily.

[lxiii] Steiner, op. cit., 281

[lxiv] Her dilemma, inherited as it is from Ruskin, is the same problem that all nineteenth-century sages and reformers dwelt on. It is the problem Derrida finds at the heart of Rousseau’s theories of education and justice; it is again found in Matthew Arnold’s Culture and Anarchy, and as we have seen in Shell’s analysis of Ruskin’s political economy. How do you create a just society from people who are unjust in themselves without in some way forcing justice upon them?

[lxv] Eve Sedgwick understands this as “male rape” (169). By extension it may be argued that in Lee’s short story it also functions as a strategic undermining of patriarchy and compulsory heterosexuality while still circulating an a triangulated desire.

[lxvi] For an interesting comparison see Black, C.F. “The Baglioni as Tyrants of Perugia, 1488-1540.” The English Historical Review, Vol. 85, No. 335. (Apr., 1970). 275

[lxvii] Lee, Vernon, “A Wedding Chest,” op. cit., 241.

[lxviii] Simmel, Georg. 358-9.

[lxix] Radin, Margaret. 1996. Contested Commodities. Cambridge: Harvard University Press. 86. Radin’s opposition to Posner is also discussed in Regenia Gagnier’s Insatiability of Human Wants, 6-7.

[lxx] Lee, Vernon, “The Economic Parasitism of Women.” 294.

References

Aronofsky Weltman, Sharon, “Mythic Language and Gender Subversion: The Case of Ruskin’s Athena,” Nineteenth-Century Literature, 52 3, (December 1997), (The Regents of the University of California, 1997)

Baskins, Cristelle L., Cassone Painting, Humanism, and Gender in Early Modern Italy, (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998)

–“Gender Trouble in Italian Renaissance Art History: Two Case Studies,” Studies in Iconography 16, 1994

Baudrillard, Jean, The Political Economy of the Sign, trans. Charles Levin (New York: Telos Press Ltd., 1981)

Berenson, Bernhard, Florentine Painters, (New York: Putnam, 1896)

Aesthetics and History, (London: Constable Publishers, 1948)

Callmann, Ellen, “The Growing Threat to Marital Bliss as Seen in Fifteenth-Century Florentine Paintings,” Studies in Iconography

–“An Apollonio di Giovanni for an Historic Marriage,” The Burlington Magazine, Vol. 119, No. 888, Special Issue Devoted to Italian Painting of the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Centuries (Mar., 1977), 174-81

–William Blundell Spence and the Transformation of Renaissance Cassoni, The Burlington Magazine, Vol. 141, No. 1155. (Jun., 1999), 338-348.

Cohen, Elizabeth S., “No Longer Virgins: Self-Presentation by Young Women in Late Renaissance Rome,” Refiguring the Renaissance: Perspectives on Gender and the Italian Renaissance, ed. Migiel, Marilyn and Juliana Schiesari, (Ithaca and London: Cornell University Press, 1991)

Colby, Vineta, Vernon Lee: A Literary Biography, (Charlottesville and London: University of Virginia Press, 2003)

Dellamora, Richard, “Productive Decadence: “The Queer Comradeship of Outlawed Thought”: Vernon Lee, Max Nordau, and Oscar Wilde,” New Literary History, 35 4 (Autumn 2004)

Denisoff, Dennis, Aestheticism and Sexual Parody: 1840-1940, (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006)

Fluhr, Nicole “Empathy and Identity in Vernon Lee’s Hauntings,” Victorian Studies, (Winter, 2006)

Freedman, Jonathan Professions of Taste: Henry James, British Aestheticism, and Commodity Culture, (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1990)

Gagnier, Regenia The Insatiability of Human Wants: Economics and Aesthetics in Market Society, (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000)

Gallagher, Catherine, The Body Economic: Life, Death, and Sensation in Political Economy and the Victorian Novel, (Princeton and Oxford: Princeton University Press, 2006)

Gardner, Burdett, The Lesbian Imagination (Victorian Style): A Psychological and Critical Study of “Vernon Lee,” (Ph.D. dissertation, Harvard University, 1954) (New York: Garland, 1987)

Golden, Catherine, “Dante Gabriel Rossetti’s two-sided art,” Victorian Poetry 26 (1988), 395-402.

Goux, Jean-Joseph, “The Phallus, Masculine Identity, and the ‘Exchange of Women,’ differences 4 (1992): 40-75

Heffernan, James A., Museum of Words: The Poetics of Ekphrasis form Homer to Ashberry, (Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press, 1993).

Hollander, John, “The Poetics of Ekphrasis,” Word & Image 4, (1988), 209-219.

James, Henry, “The Jolly Corner,” in Tales of Henry James, ed. Wegelin, Christof and Henry B. Wonham, (New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 2003)

Lee, Vernon, “A Wedding Chest,” in Hauntings and Other Fantastic Tales, ed. Maxwell, Catherine and Patricia Pulham, (Ontario: Broadview Editions, 2006)

–“The Economic Parasitism of Women,” ed. Karpinski, Joanne B., Critical Essays on Charlotte Perkins Gilman, (New York: G.K. Hall, 1992)

–Review essay of Bernard Berenson’s Florentine Painters, Mind, New Series, Vol. 5, No. 18. (Apr., 1896), 270-286.

–“Ruskinism,” in Belcaro; being Essays on Sundry Aesthetical Questions, (London: T. Fisher Unwin, 1887), 197-230

–‘Review,’ Ruskin: The Critical Heritage, ed. J.L. Bradley, The Critical Heritage Series [Routledge and Kegan Paul: London]

–Beauty and Ugliness and Other Studies in Psychological Aesthetics, (London and New York: John Lane, The Bodley Head, 1912)

–“Imaginative Art of the Renaissance,” in Renaissance Fancies and Studies, (London and New York: John Lane, The Bodley Head, 1909), 85-6.

Leighton, Angela, “Ghosts, Aestheticism, and ‘Vernon Lee’,” Victorian Literature and Culture, ed. Munich, Adrienne and John Maynard, Volume 30, Number 2 Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002).

Maltz, Diana, “Engaging “Delicate Brains”: From Working-Class Enculturation to Upper Class Lesbian Liberation in Vernon Lee and Kit Anstruther-Thomson’s Psychological Aesthetics,” Woman and British Aestheticism, ed. Schaeffer, Talia and Kathy Psomiades, (Charlottesville and London: University Press of Virginia, 1999)

Manocchi, Phyllis, “Vernon Lee and Kit Anstruther Thomson: A Study of Love and Collaboration between Romantic Friends,” Women’s Studies 12, no. 2 1986

Marsh, Jan, “’The Old Tuscan Rapture’: The Response to Italy and its Art in the Work of Marie Spartali Stillman,” in Unfolding the South: Nineteenth-century British Women Writers and Artists in Italy, ed. Chapman, Alison and Jane Stabler, (Manchester and New York: Manchester University Press, 2003)

Maxwell, Catherine “Vernon Lee and the Ghosts of Italy,” ed. Chapman, Alison and Jane Stabler Unfolding the South: Nineteenth-Century British Women Artists and Artists in Italy, (Manchester and New York: Manchester University Press, 2003)

–“From Dionysus to Dionea: Vernon Lee Portraits,” Word & Image, Volume 13, No. 3, July-September, (New York: Taylor and Francis Ltd., 1997)

McKim-Smith, Gridley, “The Rhetoric of Rape, The Language of Vandalism,” Woman’s Art Journal, Vol. 23, No. 1. (Spring – Summer, 2002), 29-36.

Millet, Kate, Sexual Politics, (New York: Doubleday, 1970)

Munich, Adrienne Auslander, “What Lily Knew: Virginity in the 1890’s,” in Virginal Sexuality and Textuality in Victorian Literature, ed. Lloyd Davis, (Albany, NY: State University of New York, 1993), 143-157.

Newman, Karen, “Directing Traffic: Subjects, Objects, and the Politics of Exchange,” Differences 2:2 (1990): 41-54

Newman, Sally, “The Archival Traces of Desire: Vernon Lee’s Failed Sexuality and the Interpretation of Letters in Lesbian History,” Journals of the History of Sexuality, Volume 14, Nos. ½, January/April (Austin: University of Texas Press, 2005)

Pearce, Lynne, Woman, Image, Text: readings in Pre-Raphaelite Art and Literature, (Toronto and Buffalo: University of Toronto Press, 1991)

Psomiades, Kathy Alexis, Beauty’s Body: Femininity and Representation in British Aestheticism, (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1997)

–“Still Burning from This Strangling Embrace: Vernon Lee on Desire and Aesthetics,” in Sexual Dissidence, Dellamora

Pulham, Patricia, “A Transatlantic Alliance: Charlotte Perkins Gilman and Vernon Lee,” Feminist Forerunners: New Womanism and Feminism in the Early Twentieth Century, ed. Ann Heilmann, (London, Sydney, Chicago: Pandora, 2003)

–“The Castrato and the Cry in Vernon Lee’s Wicked Voices,” Victorian Literature and Culture, ed. Munich, Adrienne and John Maynard, Volume 30, Number 2 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002)

Radin, Margaret, Contested Commodities, (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1996)

Robins, Ruth, “Vernon Lee: Decadent Woman?,” ed. Stokes, John, Fin de Siecle/Fin du Globe, (London: Palgrave MacMillan, 1992)

Rubin, Gayle “The Traffic in Women: Notes Toward a ‘Political Economy’ of Sex.” In Rayna Reiter, ed. Toward an Anthropology of Women, (New York: Monthly Review Press, 1975)

Samuels, Ernest, Bernard Berenson: The Making of a Connoisseur, (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1979)

Seaton, Beverly, “Considering the Lilies: Ruskin’s “Proserpina” and Other Victorian Flower Books,” Victorian Studies, (Winter, 1985)

Shell, Marc, Money, Language, and Thought: Literary and Philosophical Economies from the Medieval to the Modern Era, (Berkley: University of California Press, 1982)

Art and Money, (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1995), 4.

The Economy of Literature, (Baltimore and London: The John Hopkins University Press, 1978)

Simmel, Georg The Philosophy of Money, trans. Bottmore, Tom and David Frisby, (London, Henley, and Boston: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1978)

Small, Ian, Conditions for Criticism: Authority, Knowledge, and Literature in the Late Nineteenth-Century, (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1993)

Small, Ian. “Vernon Lee, Associationism and ‘Impressionist’ Criticism, The British Journal of Aesthetics (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1977) 17: 178-184

Steiner, Wendy “The Cause of Effect: Edith Wharton and the Economics of Ekphrasis,” Poetics Today, 10:2, (Summer, 1989)

Towheed, Shafquat, “Determining “Fluctuating Opinions”: Vernon Lee, Popular Fiction, and Theories of Reading,” Nineteenth Century Literature, Volume 60, No. 2, (The Regents of the University of California: 2005)

Vicinus, Martha, A Widening Sphere: Changing Roles of Victorian Women, ed. (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1977)

Vicinus, Martha, “A Legion of Ghosts”” Vernon Lee (1856-1935) and the Art of Nostalgia” GLQ 10:4 (Duke University Press: 2004)

–“The Adolescent Boy: Fin de Siecle Femme Fatale?” ed. Dellamora, Richard, Victorian Sexual Dissidence, (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1999)

–“Sister Souls”: Bernard Berenson and Michael Field (Katherine Bradley and Edith Cooper), Nineteenth Century Literature, Volume 60, No. 3

Wellek, René, “Vernon Lee, Bernard Berenson, and Aesthetics,” Discriminations: Further Concepts of Criticism, (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1970), 164-186.

Witthoft, Brucia, “Marriage Rituals and Marriage Chests in Quattrocento Florence,” Artibus et Historiae, Vol. 3, No. 5. (1982), 43-59.

Wofford, Susanne L., “The Social Aesthetics of Rape: Closural Violence in Boccaccio and Botticelli,” New Essays on Renaissance Literature in Honor of Thomas M. Greene Ed. David Quint, (Binghamton: State University of New York, 1992), 189-238

Woodmansee, Martha and Mark Osteen, The New Economic Criticism: Studies at the Intersection of Literature and Economics, (London and New York: Routledge, 1999)

Zirpolo, Lilian, “Botticelli’s “Primavera”: A Lesson for the Bride,” Woman’s Art Journal, Vol. 12, No. 2. (Autumn, 1991 – Winter, 1992), pp. 24-28.

Zorn, Christa, Vernon Lee: Aesthetics, History, and the Victorian Female Intellectual [Ohio State University Press: Athens, Ohio] 2003

[1] Shell, Marc. 1982. Money, Language and Thought. Literary and Philosophical Economies from the Medieval to the Modern Era. Berkley, Los Angeles, and London: University of California Press. 3.

[1] Simmel, Georg. 1978. The Philosophy of Money. trans. Bottmore, Tom and David Frisby. London, Henley, and Boston: Routledge and Kegan Paul. Quoted in Marc Shell, 4.

[1] Lee, Vernon. 2006. Hauntings and Other Fantastic Tales. Ed. Maxwell, Catherine and Patricia Pulham. Ontario: Broadview Editions. 229-242.

[1] Woodmansee, Martha. 1999. “Taking Account of the New Economic Criticism.”  The New Economic Criticism. Studies at the Intersection of Literature and Economics. Ed. Woodmansee, Martha and Mark Osteen. London: Routledge. 36.

[1] Pulham, Patricia. 2003. “A Transatlantic Alliance. Charlotte Perkins Gilman and Vernon Lee.”  Feminist Forerunners. New Womanism and Feminism in the Early Twentieth Century. Ed. Ann Heilmann. London, Sydney, Chicago: Pandora. 34-43.

[1] Lee’s review originally bore the title “The Economic Dependence of Women,” and was subsequently published in the North American Review, (April, 1901). It was republished in her Gospels of Anarchy as “The Economic Parasitism of Women,” and reprinted in Critical Essays on Charlotte Perkins Gilman, ed. Joanne B. Karpinski. New York: G.K. Hall. 1992.

[1] Weltman, Sharon Aronofsky. “Mythic Language and Gender Subversion. The Case of Ruskin’s Athena.” Nineteenth-Century Literature. 52: 3. (December  1997). The Regents of the University of California, 1997. 351. The literature on “separate spheres” is immense. Kate Millett made the original charge against Ruskin’s “spheres” that is used here. Millett, Kate 1970. Sexual Politics. New York: Doubleday. 93-4.

[1] This phrase was noted by Richard Dellamora in “Productive Decadence: “The Queer Comradeship of Outlawed Thought”. Vernon Lee, Max Nordau, and Oscar Wilde.” New Literary History. 35: 4 (Autumn 2004).

[1] Zorn, Christa. 2003. Vernon Lee. Aesthetics, History, and the Victorian Female Intellectual. Athens: Ohio University Press. 79. The complications with Lee’s “moral” interpretation are well presented and contextualized in Zorn’s study of Lee’s response to aestheticism.

[1] This speech delivered at the London Pavilion in 1913, was published in The Suffragette (6 June, 1913), see Patricia Pulham, “A Transatlantic Alliance,” 38

[1] It is interesting in this light to compare the “portrait slashings” of Suffragettes like Mary Richardson who hacked at the Rokeby Venus in 1914 as a protest to the incarceration of Mrs. Pankhurst. While the outraged public viewed the act as an iconoclastic rage against art and the economics of the British public, those who could read Richardson’s choice of symbols recognized it as an attack on a social hierarchy of values. Thomas Otten cites this event as “viewership with a vengeance.” See Otten, Thomas J. 2000. “Slashing Henry James (On Painting and Political Economy, Circa 1900). The Yale Journal of Criticism. Vol. 13, No. 2. 293, 296-98. See also Otten, Thomas J. 2006. A Superficial Reading of Henry James. Preoccupations with the Material World. Columbus: Ohio State University Press.

[1] Lee. “The Economic Dependence of Women.” 81

[1] Vicinus, Martha. 1994. “The Adolescent Boy: Fin de Siècle Femme Fatale?”  Journal of the History of Sexuality.  Vol. 5, No. 1 (Jul., 1994). 90-114. Vicinus suggests a “triangulation of desire” such that “the character’s names indicate their positions in the tragic triangle: the artisan lover who—like Vernon Lee—desires too strongly; the thieving Troilo who—like Vernon Lee—revenges himself upon husbands and fiancés; and the fair Maddalena, the unfortunate victim who—like Vernon Lee—never speaks.” (107) I disagree with the notion of Lee being “like” any of these characters, and especially with the notion that she “never speaks.” A reading of the story may bring to mind Eve Sedgwick’s particular use of Gayle Rubin’s critique of patriarchy in “the traffic in women” combined with Rene Girard’s “erotic triangles,” and Levi-Strauss’s analysis of kinship. Sedgwick, Eve Kossofsky.1985. Between Men. English Literature and Male Homosocial Desire. New York: Columbia University Press. 25-27

[1] Lee, Vernon (Sept. 1894) “The Ghosts of Ravenna.” Macmillan’s Magazine. LXX: 380. Lee, Vernon. 1895. Renaissance Fancies and Studies. Being a Sequel to Euphorion. London: Smith, Elder, & Co. 102-115. As always, Lee’s attitude is complex and ambivalent. It is more her identification of these works that counts rather than any overt critique or labeling of them as misogynistic. Lee is always guarded in her judgments of Italian Renaissance art and it would be anachronistic and insensitive to impute contemporary feminist strategies to her or expect her to have demonstrated the sophisticated critical maneuvers operating today.

[1] Lee is of course correct about this for the three panels are “by Botticelli depicting the story of Nastagio degli Onesti told by Boccaccio in the Eight novel of the Fifth day in the Decameron […] they were acquired by Mr. Alexander Barker in 1868, passing in 1879 into the possession of Mr. F.R. Leyland, where they remained until his death in 1892 […] which have now entered the Prado […] bought by Don Francesco Cambó in May 1929.” “Alba.” “The Cambó Gift to the Prado Museum.” The Burlington Magazine for Connoisseurs, Vol. 80. No. 469, (April, 1942). 102-3

[1] Colby, Vineta. 2003.  Vernon Lee. A Literary Biography. Charlottesville and London: University of Virginia Press. 242-3.

[1] The literature in Italian Renaissance cassoni is immense. The recent criticism of Cristelle Baskins has focused attention on the importance of interpretation in engaging with the historical literature. Her essays and book read “against the grain” drawing heavily on recent feminist scholarship, gender criticism, and reception theory. See especially her instructive and helpful introductory remarks. Baskins, Cristelle L. 1998. Cassone Painting, Humanism, and Gender in Early Modern Italy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1-25.

[1] The “social aesthetics of rape” is Susanne L. Wofford’s term for the “closural violence” in Italian Renaissance “fictions and visual representations of marriage—not to mention the legal discourse and contractual statements—[which] often refer, albeit indirectly, to an underlying mythos which tells of the emergence of marriage, and, by extension, civilization, from violence, conquest and rape.” Wofford, Susanne L. 1992. “The Social Aesthetics of Rape: Closural Violence in Boccaccio and Botticelli.” in Creative Imitation. New Essays on Renaissance Literature in Honor of Thomas M. Greene. Binghamton, NY: Medieval and Renaissance Texts and Studies. 189.

[1] Lee voices this opinion in her essay “Botticelli at the Villa Lemmi,” where she protests the removal of original Botticelli frescoes from a Tuscan farmhouse. Describing this as “modern Vandalism,” she complains of the “habit of removing works of art from their natural surroundings in order to place them in a kind of artificial stony Arabia of vacuity and ugliness. I should call this the modern gallery-and-concert tendency…a sort of triumph of civilization”   Lee, Vernon. 1887. Juvenilia. London: Unwin, vol. I: 125-127.

[1] Marsh, Jan. 2003. “The Old Tuscan Rapture. The Response to Italy and its Art in the Work of Marie Spartali Stillman,” in Unfolding the South. Nineteenth-century British Women Writers and Artists in Italy. Eds. Chapman, Alison and Jane Stabler. Manchester and New York: Manchester University Press. 175.

[1] Lee’s “Gallery Diaries” are found in chapter five of her 1912, Beauty and Ugliness and Other Studies in Psychological Aesthetics. London and New York: John Lane, The Bodley Head. Lee had used this method in frequenting museums where she recorded her “gallery experiments” while monitoring the bodily responses of  Kit Anstruther-Thomson.

[1] From these exercises came her “psychological aesthetics,” which led to her theory of “aesthetic empathy”: “The idea that contemplation of a beautiful object elicits hidden motor adjustments in the viewer, an unconscious imitation of the form one sees and a projection of one’s bodily movements back onto it.” Maltz, Diana. 1999. “Engaging “Delicate Brains”. From Working-Class Enculturation to Upper Class Lesbian Liberation in Vernon Lee and Kit Anstruther-Thomson’s Psychological Aesthetics,” in Woman and British Aestheticism, ed. Schaeffer, Talia and Kathy Psomiades. Charlottesville and London: University Press of Virginia, 1999. 214. While I share Maltz’s definition of Lee’s earliest formulations of empathy, I do not agree that the theory is interchangeable with Grant Allen’s “physiological aesthetics” as Regenia Gagnier implies. A simplistic reduction does little to isolate Lee’s theory from the charge that it was a mere echo of Allen’s evolutionary psychology. Gagnier, Regenia. 2000.  The Insatiability of Human Wants. Economics and Aesthetics in Market Society. Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press. 139.

[1] Nicole Fluhr has correctly observed that in all of Lee’s fictional writings her “aesthetic psychology” is applied to her short stories, as for example in her study of Lee’s Hauntings (1890). Quoting Royal Gettmann, Fluhr argues that “for Vernon Lee the crucial point of empathy is not projection,” as in the dictionary definition, “or feeling into,” as in the German term from which she coined the English word, “but a merging of the beholder and the object beheld. Empathy is neither egotistical absorption and projection nor a passive, empty surrender; it is collaboration.” Fluhr, Nicole. “Empathy and Identity in Vernon Lee’s Hauntings.” Victorian Studies. (Winter 2006) Fluhr quotes from Royal A. Gettmann’s critical introduction to Vernon Lee’s 1968,  Handling of Words and Other Studies in Literary Psychology. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press. xii. Gettmann tactfully rescues Lee’s theory from vulgar physiological aesthetics and also allows one to differentiate it from Bernard Berenson’s “tactile” or “ideated sensations.”

[1] Regenia Gagnier’s asserts in the Insatiability of Human Wants that Lee’s “aesthetic experiments compromised the ethical aesthetics Lee had inherited from Ruskin and the missionary aesthetics the aristocratic Anstruther-Thomson had inherited from a tradition of woman’s philanthropy.” Yet a close reading of Lee’s own works from the period of her “conversion” to the Woman Question, and the evidence from her biographer’s suggests a rather different interpretation. In Beauty and Ugliness (1912) published with her “gallery experiments” Lee retracted much of the theory Gagnier refers to as “physiological.” What she retained in her theory after the 1890’s was the inseparability of empathy theory from the ethics of sympathy which connects art to life practice. Lee maintains a critical attitude toward Herbert Spencer and Grant Allen in her chapter “anthropomorphic aesthetics.” Lee, Vernon. 1912.  Beauty and Ugliness and Other Studies on Psychological Aesthetics. London and New York: John Lane, The Bodley Head. See also Shafquat Towhheed. “The Creative Evolution of Scientific Paradigms. Vernon Lee and the Debate over the Hereditary Transmission of Acquired Characters. Victorian Studies. (Autumn, 2006): 33-61.

[1] Baudrillard, Jean. 1981. The Political Economy of the Sign. trans. Charles Levin. New York: Telos Press Ltd., 121.

[1] Denisoff, Dennis. 2006. Aestheticism and Sexual Parody: 1840-1940. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 31. In 1892, her novella “Lady Tal” parodied Henry James with its lead character the effeminate and pedantic Gervase Marion who refuses to collaborate on a literary project with the novel’s heroine. The publication of “Lady Tal” in her Vanitas: Polite Stories resulted in James’s cessation of communication with her just as Miss Brown had made Lee’s name anathema in certain aesthete circles in London.

[1] For a discussion of the relationship between the art connoisseurship of Bernard Berenson and the “lure” of the fine arts, see Brewer John. 2005. “The Lure of Leonardo.” The Lure of the Object. (Clark Studies in the Visual Arts). Ed. Melville, Stephen. Clark Art Institute.

[1] Steiner, Wendy. “The Cause of Effect: Edith Wharton and the Economics of Ekphrasis.” Poetics Today, 10:2 (Summer, 1989) 288.

[1] Hollander, John. 1995. The Gazer’s Spirit. Poems Speaking to Silent Works of Art. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. For Hollander, “notional ekphrasis” may describe as well, an entirely fictive and imaginary work of art that is treated as if it really existed. Both Lee’s cassone panels and her museum are fanciful inventions, “notional”. See also Hollander, John. “The Poetics of Ekphrasis.” Word & Image 4. (1988) 209-219.

[1] Callmann, Ellen. “William Blundell Spence and the Transformation of Renaissance Cassoni.” The Burlington Magazine, Vol. 141, No. 1155. (June 1999), 338-48.

[1] O’Connor, Mary. 1990. “Chronotopes for Women under Capital. An Investigation into the Relation of Women to Objects.” Critical Studies. Vol. 2, No. 1/2. 138-9

[1] Baskins, Cristelle L. 1998. Cassone Painting, Humanism, and Gender in Early Modern Italy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

[1] Lee, Vernon. “A Wedding Chest,” 230.

[1] Steiner, op. cit., 288.

[1] Freedman, Jonathan.  1990. Professions of Taste: Henry James, British Aestheticism, and Commodity Culture, Stanford: Stanford University Press. 19.

[1] Psomiades, Kathy. 1997. Beauty’s Body: Femininity and Representation in British Aestheticism, Stanford: Stanford University Press. 165-77.

[1] Pearce, Lynne. 1991. Woman, Image, Text: readings in Pre-Raphaelite Art and Literature .Toronto and Buffalo: University of Toronto Press. 31. Golden, Catherine. “Dante Gabriel Rossetti’s two-sided art,” Victorian Poetry 26 (1988), 395-402.

[1] Steiner, op. cit., 280.

[1] Steiner, op. cit., 290.

[1] Auslander-Munich, Adrienne. 1993. “What Lily Knew: Virginity in the 1890’s,” in Virginal Sexuality and Textuality in Victorian Literature. Ed. Lloyd Davis. Albany, NY: State University of New York. 143-157.

[1] Auslander-Munich, Adrienne. Op. cit., 154.

[1] Auslander-Munich, Adrienne. Op. cit., 144.

[1] Lee, Vernon. 1909. “Imaginative Art of the Renaissance.”  Renaissance Fancies and Studies. London and New York: John Lane, The Bodley Head. 85-6.

[1] Shell, Marc. 1995.  Art and Money. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. 4.

[1] “Ruskin and the Political Economy of Art,” in Shell, Marc. 1978.  The Economy of Literature. Baltimore and London: The John Hopkins University Press. 133.

[1] Gallagher, Catherine. 2006. The Body Economic. Life, Death, and Sensation in Political Economy and the Victorian Novel. Princeton and Oxford: Princeton University Press. 86-94.

[1] James, Henry. (1908), 2003. “The Jolly Corner.” Tales of Henry James, Eds. Wegelin, Christof and Henry B. Wonham. New York: W.W. Norton & Company. 347.

[1] Lee’s early critical attitude is apparent in her essay “Ruskinism,” published in Belcaro; being Essays on Sundry Aesthetical Questions, (London: T. Fisher Unwin, 1887), 197-230. Vineta Colby documents her gradual acceptance of certain aspects of his philosophy after 1900.

[1] Cohen, Elizabeth S. 1991. “No Longer Virgins: Self-Presentation by Young Women in Late Renaissance Rome.” Refiguring the Renaissance: Perspectives on Gender and the Italian Renaissance. Eds. Migiel, Marilyn and Juliana Schiesari. Ithaca and London: Cornell University Press. 172.

[1] The phrase “contested commodity” is taken from Radin, Margaret. 1996.  Contested Commodities, Cambridge: Harvard University Press.

[1] Lee, Vernon. “A Wedding Chest”, op. cit., 241.

[1] Vicinus, Martha. “’Sister Souls’: Bernard Berenson and Michael Field (Katherine Bradley and Edith Cooper),” Nineteenth-Century Literature, Vol. 60, No. 3, (Regents of the University of California: 2006). 329.

[1] Samuels, Ernest. 1979. Bernard Berenson: The Making of a Connoisseur. Cambridge: Harvard University Press. 225.

[1]  Lee is denying here Berenson’s pet assertion that Renaissance guild men never painted or created any work from their own “character, private opinions, or predilections.”  Berenson, Bernard. 1948. Aesthetics and History. London: Constable Publishers. 220.

[1] “A Wedding Chest,” 235. In what follows I disagree with the editors of “A Wedding Chest” who note: “Florentine lilies, better known as a type of iris. The dried tubers are ground down to produce a scented powder known as orris root which is widely used in perfumery. This would have made them a valuable commodity.” (235 n.3) It is hard to imagine why the editors thought that Lee, who was an avid numismatist, would not be referring to the Florentine coin.

[1] Rubin, Gayle. 1975. “The Traffic in Women: Notes toward a ‘Political Economy’ of Sex.” Ed. Reiter, Rayna. Toward an Anthropology of Women. New York: Monthly Review Press. 157-210.

[1] The scholarship on the “traffic in women” in the Italian Renaissance period is too large to discuss here, but see Newman, Karen. “Directing Traffic: Subjects, Objects, and the Politics of Exchange,” Differences 2:2 (1990): 41-54; and Goux, Jean-Joseph. “The Phallus, Masculine Identity, and the ‘Exchange of Women,’ differences 4 (1992): 40-75.

[1] For a general survey of the poetics of ekphrasis as it relates to the paragon between word and image see Heffernan, James A. 1993.  Museum of Words: The Poetics of Ekphrasis form Homer to Ashberry. Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press.

[1] “Nimbate” refers to a numismatic figure wearing a nimbus or halo surrounding the head.

[1] Divo, Jean-Paul. “Short history of the fiorino d’oro,”: http://web.ticino.com

[1] Colby, Vineta. Vernon Lee, op. cit., 11.

[1] The lily which the Christian Florentines adapted from the Romans refers to the goddess Juno. While breast-feeding her son Hercules, a drop of milk fell and nourished the earth. The ancient Romans saw this as suggestive of purity and chastity, and when the painters of the Italian Renaissance saw their ancient beliefs living on in the image of the eternal Virgin Mary they were again moved to depict scenes of the Annunciation with the lily.

[1] Steiner, op. cit., 281

[1] Her dilemma, inherited as it is from Ruskin, is the same problem that all nineteenth-century sages and reformers dwelt on. It is the problem Derrida finds at the heart of Rousseau’s theories of education and justice; it is again found in Matthew Arnold’s Culture and Anarchy, and as we have seen in Shell’s analysis of Ruskin’s political economy. How do you create a just society from people who are unjust in themselves without in some way forcing justice upon them?

[1] Eve Sedgwick understands this as “male rape” (169). By extension it may be argued that in Lee’s short story it also functions as a strategic undermining of patriarchy and compulsory heterosexuality while still circulating an a triangulated desire.

[1] For an interesting comparison see Black, C.F. “The Baglioni as Tyrants of Perugia, 1488-1540.” The English Historical Review, Vol. 85, No. 335. (Apr., 1970). 275

[1] Lee, Vernon, “A Wedding Chest,” op. cit., 241.

[1] Simmel, Georg. 358-9.

[1] Radin, Margaret. 1996. Contested Commodities. Cambridge: Harvard University Press. 86. Radin’s opposition to Posner is also discussed in Regenia Gagnier’s Insatiability of Human Wants, 6-7.

[1] Lee, Vernon, “The Economic Parasitism of Women.” 294.

References

Aronofsky Weltman, Sharon, “Mythic Language and Gender Subversion: The Case of Ruskin’s Athena,” Nineteenth-Century Literature, 52 3, (December 1997), (The Regents of the University of California, 1997)

Baskins, Cristelle L., Cassone Painting, Humanism, and Gender in Early Modern Italy, (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998)

–“Gender Trouble in Italian Renaissance Art History: Two Case Studies,” Studies in Iconography 16, 1994

Baudrillard, Jean, The Political Economy of the Sign, trans. Charles Levin (New York: Telos Press Ltd., 1981)

Berenson, Bernhard, Florentine Painters, (New York: Putnam, 1896)

Aesthetics and History, (London: Constable Publishers, 1948)

Callmann, Ellen, “The Growing Threat to Marital Bliss as Seen in Fifteenth-Century Florentine Paintings,” Studies in Iconography

–“An Apollonio di Giovanni for an Historic Marriage,” The Burlington Magazine, Vol. 119, No. 888, Special Issue Devoted to Italian Painting of the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Centuries (Mar., 1977), 174-81

–William Blundell Spence and the Transformation of Renaissance Cassoni, The Burlington Magazine, Vol. 141, No. 1155. (Jun., 1999), 338-348.

Cohen, Elizabeth S., “No Longer Virgins: Self-Presentation by Young Women in Late Renaissance Rome,” Refiguring the Renaissance: Perspectives on Gender and the Italian Renaissance, ed. Migiel, Marilyn and Juliana Schiesari, (Ithaca and London: Cornell University Press, 1991)

Colby, Vineta, Vernon Lee: A Literary Biography, (Charlottesville and London: University of Virginia Press, 2003)

Dellamora, Richard, “Productive Decadence: “The Queer Comradeship of Outlawed Thought”: Vernon Lee, Max Nordau, and Oscar Wilde,” New Literary History, 35 4 (Autumn 2004)

Denisoff, Dennis, Aestheticism and Sexual Parody: 1840-1940, (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006)

Fluhr, Nicole “Empathy and Identity in Vernon Lee’s Hauntings,” Victorian Studies, (Winter, 2006)

Freedman, Jonathan Professions of Taste: Henry James, British Aestheticism, and Commodity Culture, (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1990)

Gagnier, Regenia The Insatiability of Human Wants: Economics and Aesthetics in Market Society, (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000)

Gallagher, Catherine, The Body Economic: Life, Death, and Sensation in Political Economy and the Victorian Novel, (Princeton and Oxford: Princeton University Press, 2006)

Gardner, Burdett, The Lesbian Imagination (Victorian Style): A Psychological and Critical Study of “Vernon Lee,” (Ph.D. dissertation, Harvard University, 1954) (New York: Garland, 1987)

Golden, Catherine, “Dante Gabriel Rossetti’s two-sided art,” Victorian Poetry 26 (1988), 395-402.

Goux, Jean-Joseph, “The Phallus, Masculine Identity, and the ‘Exchange of Women,’ differences 4 (1992): 40-75

Heffernan, James A., Museum of Words: The Poetics of Ekphrasis form Homer to Ashberry, (Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press, 1993).

Hollander, John, “The Poetics of Ekphrasis,” Word & Image 4, (1988), 209-219.

James, Henry, “The Jolly Corner,” in Tales of Henry James, ed. Wegelin, Christof and Henry B. Wonham, (New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 2003)

Lee, Vernon, “A Wedding Chest,” in Hauntings and Other Fantastic Tales, ed. Maxwell, Catherine and Patricia Pulham, (Ontario: Broadview Editions, 2006)

–“The Economic Parasitism of Women,” ed. Karpinski, Joanne B., Critical Essays on Charlotte Perkins Gilman, (New York: G.K. Hall, 1992)

–Review essay of Bernard Berenson’s Florentine Painters, Mind, New Series, Vol. 5, No. 18. (Apr., 1896), 270-286.

–“Ruskinism,” in Belcaro; being Essays on Sundry Aesthetical Questions, (London: T. Fisher Unwin, 1887), 197-230

–‘Review,’ Ruskin: The Critical Heritage, ed. J.L. Bradley, The Critical Heritage Series [Routledge and Kegan Paul: London]

–Beauty and Ugliness and Other Studies in Psychological Aesthetics, (London and New York: John Lane, The Bodley Head, 1912)

–“Imaginative Art of the Renaissance,” in Renaissance Fancies and Studies, (London and New York: John Lane, The Bodley Head, 1909), 85-6.

Leighton, Angela, “Ghosts, Aestheticism, and ‘Vernon Lee’,” Victorian Literature and Culture, ed. Munich, Adrienne and John Maynard, Volume 30, Number 2 Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002).

Maltz, Diana, “Engaging “Delicate Brains”: From Working-Class Enculturation to Upper Class Lesbian Liberation in Vernon Lee and Kit Anstruther-Thomson’s Psychological Aesthetics,” Woman and British Aestheticism, ed. Schaeffer, Talia and Kathy Psomiades, (Charlottesville and London: University Press of Virginia, 1999)

Manocchi, Phyllis, “Vernon Lee and Kit Anstruther Thomson: A Study of Love and Collaboration between Romantic Friends,” Women’s Studies 12, no. 2 1986

Marsh, Jan, “’The Old Tuscan Rapture’: The Response to Italy and its Art in the Work of Marie Spartali Stillman,” in Unfolding the South: Nineteenth-century British Women Writers and Artists in Italy, ed. Chapman, Alison and Jane Stabler, (Manchester and New York: Manchester University Press, 2003)

Maxwell, Catherine “Vernon Lee and the Ghosts of Italy,” ed. Chapman, Alison and Jane Stabler Unfolding the South: Nineteenth-Century British Women Artists and Artists in Italy, (Manchester and New York: Manchester University Press, 2003)

–“From Dionysus to Dionea: Vernon Lee Portraits,” Word & Image, Volume 13, No. 3, July-September, (New York: Taylor and Francis Ltd., 1997)

McKim-Smith, Gridley, “The Rhetoric of Rape, The Language of Vandalism,” Woman’s Art Journal, Vol. 23, No. 1. (Spring – Summer, 2002), 29-36.

Millet, Kate, Sexual Politics, (New York: Doubleday, 1970)

Munich, Adrienne Auslander, “What Lily Knew: Virginity in the 1890’s,” in Virginal Sexuality and Textuality in Victorian Literature, ed. Lloyd Davis, (Albany, NY: State University of New York, 1993), 143-157.

Newman, Karen, “Directing Traffic: Subjects, Objects, and the Politics of Exchange,” Differences 2:2 (1990): 41-54

Newman, Sally, “The Archival Traces of Desire: Vernon Lee’s Failed Sexuality and the Interpretation of Letters in Lesbian History,” Journals of the History of Sexuality, Volume 14, Nos. ½, January/April (Austin: University of Texas Press, 2005)

Pearce, Lynne, Woman, Image, Text: readings in Pre-Raphaelite Art and Literature, (Toronto and Buffalo: University of Toronto Press, 1991)

Psomiades, Kathy Alexis, Beauty’s Body: Femininity and Representation in British Aestheticism, (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1997)

–“Still Burning from This Strangling Embrace: Vernon Lee on Desire and Aesthetics,” in Sexual Dissidence, Dellamora

Pulham, Patricia, “A Transatlantic Alliance: Charlotte Perkins Gilman and Vernon Lee,” Feminist Forerunners: New Womanism and Feminism in the Early Twentieth Century, ed. Ann Heilmann, (London, Sydney, Chicago: Pandora, 2003)

–“The Castrato and the Cry in Vernon Lee’s Wicked Voices,” Victorian Literature and Culture, ed. Munich, Adrienne and John Maynard, Volume 30, Number 2 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002)

Radin, Margaret, Contested Commodities, (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1996)

Robins, Ruth, “Vernon Lee: Decadent Woman?,” ed. Stokes, John, Fin de Siecle/Fin du Globe, (London: Palgrave MacMillan, 1992)

Rubin, Gayle “The Traffic in Women: Notes Toward a ‘Political Economy’ of Sex.” In Rayna Reiter, ed. Toward an Anthropology of Women, (New York: Monthly Review Press, 1975)

Samuels, Ernest, Bernard Berenson: The Making of a Connoisseur, (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1979)

Seaton, Beverly, “Considering the Lilies: Ruskin’s “Proserpina” and Other Victorian Flower Books,” Victorian Studies, (Winter, 1985)

Shell, Marc, Money, Language, and Thought: Literary and Philosophical Economies from the Medieval to the Modern Era, (Berkley: University of California Press, 1982)

Art and Money, (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1995), 4.

The Economy of Literature, (Baltimore and London: The John Hopkins University Press, 1978)

Simmel, Georg The Philosophy of Money, trans. Bottmore, Tom and David Frisby, (London, Henley, and Boston: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1978)

Small, Ian, Conditions for Criticism: Authority, Knowledge, and Literature in the Late Nineteenth-Century, (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1993)

Small, Ian. “Vernon Lee, Associationism and ‘Impressionist’ Criticism, The British Journal of Aesthetics (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1977) 17: 178-184

Steiner, Wendy “The Cause of Effect: Edith Wharton and the Economics of Ekphrasis,” Poetics Today, 10:2, (Summer, 1989)

Towheed, Shafquat, “Determining “Fluctuating Opinions”: Vernon Lee, Popular Fiction, and Theories of Reading,” Nineteenth Century Literature, Volume 60, No. 2, (The Regents of the University of California: 2005)

Vicinus, Martha, A Widening Sphere: Changing Roles of Victorian Women, ed. (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1977)

Vicinus, Martha, “A Legion of Ghosts”” Vernon Lee (1856-1935) and the Art of Nostalgia” GLQ 10:4 (Duke University Press: 2004)

–“The Adolescent Boy: Fin de Siecle Femme Fatale?” ed. Dellamora, Richard, Victorian Sexual Dissidence, (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1999)

–“Sister Souls”: Bernard Berenson and Michael Field (Katherine Bradley and Edith Cooper), Nineteenth Century Literature, Volume 60, No. 3

Wellek, René, “Vernon Lee, Bernard Berenson, and Aesthetics,” Discriminations: Further Concepts of Criticism, (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1970), 164-186.

Witthoft, Brucia, “Marriage Rituals and Marriage Chests in Quattrocento Florence,” Artibus et Historiae, Vol. 3, No. 5. (1982), 43-59.

Wofford, Susanne L., “The Social Aesthetics of Rape: Closural Violence in Boccaccio and Botticelli,” New Essays on Renaissance Literature in Honor of Thomas M. Greene Ed. David Quint, (Binghamton: State University of New York, 1992), 189-238

Woodmansee, Martha and Mark Osteen, The New Economic Criticism: Studies at the Intersection of Literature and Economics, (London and New York: Routledge, 1999)

Zirpolo, Lilian, “Botticelli’s “Primavera”: A Lesson for the Bride,” Woman’s Art Journal, Vol. 12, No. 2. (Autumn, 1991 – Winter, 1992), pp. 24-28.

Zorn, Christa, Vernon Lee: Aesthetics, History, and the Victorian Female Intellectual [Ohio State University Press: Athens, Ohio] 2003

Illustrations

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s