The pages of this book are part of a long-standing tradition of conscientious iconoclasm, in which altering or damaging a picture or object constitutes a considered form of political protest, while they also provoke further reflection upon questions about the ethics of viewing or showing scenes of pain and suffering.
Far from a symbol of restrictive, retrograde femininity (or essentialist fertility), the sunflower and its bearer are beacons of Cassatt’s fervent feminism, a latent symbolism that emerges when the painting is considered within the context of the American suffrage movement.
“Did you know Peale’s mastodon is in Germany?!,” I asked in emails and in a post on social media. No one seemed to have known, with responses generally disbelieving.
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