Portrait of a Woman in Silk: Hidden Histories of the British Atlantic World

Portrait of a Woman in Silk: Hidden Histories of the British Atlantic World

by Zara Anishanslin


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Through the story of a portrait of a woman in a silk dress, historian Zara Anishanslin embarks on a fascinating journey, exploring and refining debates about the cultural history of the eighteenth-century British Atlantic world. While most scholarship on commodities focuses either on labor and production or on consumption and use, Anishanslin unifies both, examining the worlds of four identifiable people who produced, wore, and represented this object: a London weaver, one of early modern Britain’s few women silk designers, a Philadelphia merchant’s wife, and a New England painter.
Blending macro and micro history with nuanced gender analysis, Anishanslin shows how making, buying, and using goods in the British Atlantic created an object-based community that tied its inhabitants together, while also allowing for different views of the Empire. Investigating a range of subjects including self-fashioning, identity, natural history, politics, and trade, Anishanslin makes major contributions both to the study of material culture and to our ongoing conversation about how to write history.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780300234237
Publisher: Yale University Press
Publication date: 10/24/2017
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 432
Sales rank: 643,958
Product dimensions: 6.10(w) x 9.20(h) x 0.70(d)

About the Author

Zara Anishanslin is assistant professor of history and art history at the University of Delaware.

Table of Contents

Prologue 1

Introduction: The Atlantic World in a Portrait 5

Part 1 "Our Incomparable Countrywoman" Anna Maria Garthwaite Silk Designer

1 Anna Maria Garthwaite, 1688-1763 25

2 The Clergyman's Daughter with a Designer's Imagination: British Landscapes, Natural History Networks, and the Artistry of Anna Maria Garthwaite 42

3 "An English and Even a Female Hand": Anglo-French Rivalry and the Gendered Politics of Flowered Silk 64

4 Designing the Botanical Landscape of Empire: "Curious" Plants, "Indian" Textiles, and Colonial Consumers 81

Part 2 "An Inventive And Pushing Genius" Simon Julins Master Weaver

5 Simon Julins, c. 1686/8-1778 107

6 Industry, Idleness, and Protest: The Spitalfields Weaver as Guild Member and Cultural Symbol 124

7 "Boys and Girls and All": Male Consumers, Female Producers, and Colonial Sericulture 140

Part 3 "Mrs. Mayoress" Anne Shippen Willing, Wearer

8 Anne Shippen Willing, 1710-1791 165

9 "As I Am an American": Performing Colonial Merchant Power 185

10 Hanging the Portrait: The Colonial Merchant's Townhouse 198

11 Emulating Colonists: Scandal, Regality, and Sister Portraits 209

Part 4 "Tolerably Well By The Force of Genius" Robert Feke, Painter

12 Robert Feke, c. 1707-c. 1751 225

13 The Bermuda Group in Newport: George Berkeley and Feke's Painterly Craft 241

14 Painting New Eden in New England: Massachusetts Merchants, Milton, and Violent Refinement 254

15 "'Tis Said the Arts Delight to Travel Westward": Newport Merchants, Redwood Library, and the Rise of Arts and Learning 279

Part 5 Death And Rebirth

16 1763: Unraveling Empire 297

Coda: 1791 310

Note on Sources and Methodology 313

Notes 319

Acknowledgments 403

Index 411

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