Judy Chicago Dinner Party Essay

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26 JUDY CHICAGO'S DINNER PARTY A Personal Vision of Women's History JOSEPHINE WITHERS In the fifteenth century, Christine de Pisan dreamt of building an ideal city for eminent and virtuous women, and with the help of her three "muses," the sisters Reason, Rectitude, and Justice, she reflected on the many women in history and mythology who might live together in this Cité des Dames. Almost exactly four centuries later, the American sculptor and feminist Harriet Hosmer envisioned a beautiful temple dedicated to the achievements of women. Now such a grand idea has been realized. Judy Chicago's Dinner Party, which opened at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art in March 1979, is a synthesis of the decorative and fine arts; it is theater, …show more content…

The second wing begins with Marcella, the fourth-century Roman founder of numerous convents, and ends with the Flemish intellectual Anna van Schurman. In between are Saint Bridget, Theodora, Eleanor of Aquitaine, Christine de Pisan, and Queen Elizabeth I, among others. Anne Hutchinson opens the third wing, which brings women's history up to the present with the last place setting, symbolizing Georgia O'Keeffe, the only then living woman represented at the table. In contrast to those of the first wing, most of the women of the third wing are familiar figures: Mary Wollstonecraft, Sojourner Truth [4], Susan B. Anthony, Emily Dickinson, Virginia Woolf, and Margaret Sanger, among others. Most of the plate images are organically abstract representations of "great women who have been served up and consumed by history." 4 The Apostles were chosen as exemplars who struggled to change and improve the condition of women. The plates, then, are at the center of the sacramental ritual; the women are both honored and sacrificed. The images of each of the plates and runners in one fashion or another incorporate symbols and attributes particular to that woman. Saint Bridget, the fifth-century Celtic saint, for example, is represented by her attributes of milk and fire; the majolica glazes on the Isabella d'Este plate refer to her encouragement of that industry in Mantua [5]; the Artemisia Gentileschi plate displays a very muscular,

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