'On Cheating Pictures': Gender and Portrait Miniatures in Philip Massinger's The Picture

Erin V. Obermueller


Philip Massinger’s play The Picture uses a portrait miniature as means for discussing and revising Renaissance gender norms and aesthetic practice. The role of the portrait miniature — as love token and private object — as well as that of the imprese — words inscribed upon or in the margins of an image — inform our reading and viewing of Massinger’s play as an illustrated text. The portrait becomes a magical mirror of sorts, though not of the woman it represents (Sophia) but of male insecurity and desire. Thus, by pairing a detailed study of artistic process alongside gender ideology, we can approach Massinger’s play as a drama that takes art and gender as both skillfully created and easily disrupted.

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