Prostitution, Primitivism, Performativity The Bare Life in Stephen Crane's Maggie: A Girl of the Streets and Upton Sinclair's The Jungle , Louisiana State University When the World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago opened its "Woman's Building" in 1893, two sixty-foot long murals entitled Primitive Woman and Modern Woman flanked its main hall. These murals, considered two of the most significant public commissions for the time, traced woman's advancement from her savage beginnings to her modern state.1 Bertha Palmer, famous wife of Chicago's real-estate mogul Potter Palmer, commissioned the artwork, giving artists Mary MacMonnies and Mary Cassatt specific instructions for the murals' content: "one panel should `show woman in her primitive condition as a bearer of burdens and doing drudgery [sic] either an Indian scene or a classic one.' The other mural should serve `as a contrast [showing] woman in the position she occupies today'" (qtd. in Carr and Webster 53). In response, MacMonnies's idealized portrait of the primitive woman showed her as a mother in the wilderness awaiting her male hunter's return, while Cassatt's work presented the modern woman tending to her intellectual needs by gathering fruit from the Tree of Knowledge. Although the murals' stylistic differences reflect "the
Studies in American Naturalism – University of Nebraska Press
Published: Jan 31, 2015
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