Gail Rothschild

Woman in the 19th Century

1992


Steel and hay with text. 6 x 14 x 14 feet
Commissioned by the DeCordova Museum and Sculpture Park. Lincoln, MA

Woman In The Nineteenth Century is the title of Margaret Fuller's feminist manifesto. Although an important member of the Transcendentalist Group and editor of their journal, The Dial, Fuller is less well-known than her male colleagues and Concord residents Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry Thoreau and Bronson Alcott. The deCordova Museum is located near Concord where Fuller and Emerson spent many hours locked in Transcendental debate.

Despite her formidable intellectual accomplishment, Fuller was barred from attending college because of her sex. Frustrated by the limitations placed on her, she insisted that hight education was the key to woman's advancement. To that end, she organized a Conversation Group for women which included the abolitionist Lydia Maria Child and the writer Elizabeth Peabody.

The rocking chairs are based on a nineteenth century Windsor chair in the collection of the Concord historical museum. Oversized, and fabricated out of steel, the rocking chairs are no longer images of benign domesticity. Instead, they become cages or even traditional New England stockades where a few generations before Fuller's time such an outspoken woman would have been publicly displayed and disgraced.

On the inside of each headrest is printed a quote from Fuller's book; on the outside face is a critical counter-statement from one of her male contemporaries.

Woman is not a degraded person...but a docile daughter of God...endeavoring to hear the divine word & to convey it to me.
–Ralph Waldo Emerson

Woman in the 19th Century, 1992
Steel and hay with text. 6 x 14 x 14 feet

Woman in the 19th Century, 1992
Steel and hay with text. 6 x 14 x 14 feet

Woman in the 19th Century, 1992
Steel and hay with text. 6 x 14 x 14 feet

Woman in the 19th Century, 1992
Steel and hay with text. 6 x 14 x 14 feet

Woman in the 19th Century, 1992
Steel and hay with text. 6 x 14 x 14 feet

Woman in the 19th Century, 1992
Steel and hay with text. 6 x 14 x 14 feet

Woman in the 19th Century, 1992
Steel and hay with text. 6 x 14 x 14 feet

Woman in the 19th Century, 1992
Steel and hay with text. 6 x 14 x 14 feet