Antiquarian Pygmalions: The Female Body, Ancient Statuary, and the Idea of Imaginary Transport in the Eighteenth Century
This chapter explores how eighteenth-century antiquaries used the figure of the living female statue to articulate ideas about imaginary transport and historical understanding. It traces configurations of the imaginative link between the living female body and ancient statuary in the antiquarian research of William Hamilton, the collector and British envoy to the Court of Naples; in the famous “attitudes”—silent performances of Classical poses—by Hamilton’s wife Emma; and in the writings of Charlotte Lennox. The chapter examines antiquarian representations in which the link between a modern woman’s body and ancient statuary signifies the desire to gain access to the past. It also traces how this imaginative link allowed for the construction of an object of inquiry that promised to turn this fantasy into reality.