Reading and Seeing Gender in The Yellow Book

[This is part 4 of 4]

[part 1] [part 2] [part 3]

As mentioned in a previous post, women’s poetry (and prose) appears in earlier volumes of The Yellow Book than women’s visual art. So it seems appropriate to look at an example from these early volumes and think about what it looks like when men’s art is set beside women’s writing. Volume 2 contains a number of these juxtapositions. Katharine de Mattos’ dangerously sapphic elision of the male gaze in the poem“In a Gallery Portrait of a Lady” almost has the effect of being illustrated by P. Wilson Steer’s preceding series. The averted eyes of “A Lady” and the direct gaze (and background of frames) featured in “A Gentleman” suggest the male artistic subject and female artistic object, while “Portrait of Himself” presents, alternatively, the jarring suggestion that the foregrounded dress-wearer is “himself” in drag, or the mediation of the relationship between the masculine “himself” in the background and the presumably masculine viewer by the fairly sexualized feminine intermediary. A more problematic juxtaposition, if less direct, is between Dolly Radford’s “A Song,” Alfred Thornton’s “A Landscape,” and Charlotte Mew’s “Passed.” This is how they appeared as I turned through The Yellow Book:

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