I'm not one to sit on the fence when it comes to having an opinion so I was rather stumped to find myself being forced to sit on one when asked this question: Women in Classical Paintings - Object or Subject?
My first reaction was to say subject, but then I thought no, object. The question had me philosophising and even reenacting that famous pose of a man sitting on a rock with his chin resting on one hand in deep thought.
So I asked a photographer who told me that women were definitely objects particularly as during the era of classical paintings, it was men who painted and as such, would see women as objects. She also highlighted the fact that as a photographer, she focuses on a subject and then places an object in that subject, hence why a person would be the object. It was a convincing answer.
But I wanted to hear the view from an artist who is an expert on life drawing, and she told me; “It is a subject. Most artists who paint women see the subject as a thing of beauty, mystery, shape or form. Art in itself is never free of convention, and a subject is something to be discussed, described, represented, and giving rise to a specified feeling.”
So having heard both very plausable sides I finally, I took my question to my enigmatic Italian friend and art historian. With no hesitation, and to my relief, she told me the answer is both. This was why I couldn't decide, and it made me realise that actually there can always be three sides if you open your mind, look (not just see) and delve into the bigger picture.