By Lori Anne Loeb
Timid and retiring, the Victorian housewife was once an "angel within the house," or so says the stereotype. but if this angel picked up a well-liked magazine--The woman, for instance--she observed in its ads photos of Grecian goddesses, ladies warriors, queens, actresses, adventurers. those arrestingly sexual and strangely strong pictures are the topic of eating Angels, a big exam of the way Victorian advertisements formed social values. Stylishly written and that includes seventy three reproductions, this booklet indicates how advertisements used the hedonistic facets of Victorian tradition to promote their wares, glorified consumerism, and mythologized the middle-class existence. pictures of competitive girls, Loeb exhibits, performed good to either women and men. And eventually, those advertisements helped bring in the 20 th century with the construction of a brand new group: the neighborhood of customers.
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Extra resources for Consuming Angels: Advertising and Victorian Women
Robarts Library. The classical goddess suggests only a pretense of purity. In style and in subject advertisers copy the painterly conventions established by Frederic Leighton (1830-1896) and popularized by Alma-Tadema (1836-1892), artists who intended to construct a view of the antique world in which the aspiring middle class could see themselves reflected. The Alma-Tadema school especially favoured sleepy, sexy beauties. Advertisers provided their own variations. 59 36 Consuming Angels Figure 2-8.
She could select the products from which her husband would make a final decision and she could influence the direction of that decision. She could, for example, emphasize her superior understanding of taste, status, or utility as applied to the domestic sphere, appeal to the flexibility within the family budget (often carefully crafted from her own reading of domestic economy manuals), or she could suggest that a particular purchase would bring her special pleasure. The latter ploy should not be discounted: few advertisements, even for luxuries, overtly target the man of the house and when they do they invariably promise to please his wife.
As wife, the commercial woman increasingly is joined with her husband in a shared pursuit of leisure. In 1890 the commercial depiction of the couple was painterly and sentimental, replete with allusions to the Victorian artistic convention of the courting wall and damsels reclining in hammocks. Such images emphasized sexual interest. But by 1910 the commercial image emphasizes the couple's social function, especially their shared enjoyment of affluent leisure. The prosperous couple is inevitably leaving a party72 or dining by candlelight for Berncasteler wines, Lea and Perrins Worcestershire Sauce, Lemco, Caffeta, and Montserrat Lime Juice.
Consuming Angels: Advertising and Victorian Women by Lori Anne Loeb