“In a Greek Captive’s Studio” : Rossetti and the Trout Gallery

Within Christina Rossetti’s poem, “In An Artist’s Studio” , the writer depicts the way in which women are unfortunately forced to succumb to the male gaze. Specifically, Rossetti uses metaphors and imagery-rich descriptions to showcase how one man uses women as ‘objects’ for his paintings. Merely on display for the artists’ pleasure, Rossetti describes such when she states,

“One selfsame figure sits or walks or leans:

We found her hidden just behind those screens…

He feeds upon her face by day and night,” (Rossetti 1).

In the excerpt above, women (through a masculinized gaze) could be characterized as mundane, with no purpose other than for the sole pleasuring of the male species. Likewise, as we viewed in the Trout Gallery, the piece “The Greek Captive” also displays the way in which women are forced to be subservient to men.

“The Greek Captive” from the Trout Gallery

Explicitly shown through body language and stature, the man in the back has utter control over the Greek woman leaning forward. Although it seems she is attempting to move away from the man behind her, the title of the artwork suggests otherwise as she is held under captivity. The weapon that he appears to be holding, the smirk on his face showcasing his supposed superiority, and the fact that he is standing upright all demonstrate the forced subordination of the woman. Showcased in Rossetti’s poem “In An Artist’s Studio”, the women subjects of the male artists’ paintings are inferior to him. While we as the reader may question if they are forced to be his ‘models’ or not, regardless, through phrases such as “he feeds upon her” and “we found her hidden”, it is evident that these women are victims of traditional gender roles: to sit still and look pretty. Both pieces, “In An Artist’s Studio” and “The Greek Captive” highlight the unfortunate gendered hierarchy of men and women, where regardless of force, are hindered to a state of inferiority.