The Shade of Private Life: Privacy and the Press in Turn-of-the-Century American Art


Luce/ACLS Dissertation Fellowships in American Art


History of Art


This dissertation argues that American artists helped to consolidate a new, modern notion of privacy in response to the expansion of the mass media and the emergence of invasive journalistic practices at the turn of the last century. Examining key works by Edward Lamson Henry, Augustus Saint-Gaudens, Thomas Eakins, and John White Alexander in relation to contemporary critiques of the press and the development of a legal discourse on “the right to privacy,” this study explores how artists sought to defend the private nature of their social, sexual, and creative lives against the forces of publicity. In so doing, they set the groundwork for later attempts to navigate the shifting boundaries between private and public experience in the twenty-first century.