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The Arts of the Prima Donna in the Long Nineteenth Century$
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Rachel Cowgill and Hilary Poriss

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780195365870

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195365870.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.oxfordscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2019. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 16 November 2019

Idealizing the Prima Donna in Mid-Victorian London 1

Idealizing the Prima Donna in Mid-Victorian London 1

Chapter:
(p.21) Chapter 2 Idealizing the Prima Donna in Mid-Victorian London1
Source:
The Arts of the Prima Donna in the Long Nineteenth Century
Author(s):

Roberta Montemorra Marvin

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195365870.003.0002

Chapter 2 explores the visual culture of nineteenth-century British spectatorship by examining images of prima donnas that were published in one of the principal English newspapers, the Illustrated London News. Dress, ornament, posture, and physiognomy were each subtle codes through which aspects of personality were communicated, and newspaper editors and illustrators were adept at manipulating these codes to specific ends. In some cases these can be seen working against what the readers’ prior impressions of a prima donna might have been, based on reports of her irregular private life and moral transgressions. This revealing case study offers insights into ideologies of gender that literally shaped the image and the public’s perception of Italian opera stars in the years before newspapers moved over from engravings to photography.

Keywords:   visual culture, image, Illustrated London News, dress, physiognomy, engravings, prima donnas, newspapers

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