Melissa Hyde will be coming to speak at the Françoise and Georges Selz Lecture on 18th- and 19th-Century French Decorative Arts and Culture Wednesday, February 16, 2011, on “Needling: Embroidery and Satire in the Hands of the Saint-Aubins.”

Melissa Hyde is an associate professor at the University of Florida and an affiliated faculty member at the Center for Women’s Studies and Gender Research and the Center for European Studies. She received her B. A. cum laude from Colorado College, Colorado Springs, and her M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley. She has also taught at Rice University, Houston, and Whittier College, Whittier, CA. Professor Hyde has been an invited fellow at the L’Institut national d’histoire de l’art in Paris, a Clark Fellow at the Sterling and Francine Clark Institute in Williamstown, MA, and a postdoctoral fellow at the Getty Research Institute.

Dr. Hyde is the author of Making up the Rococo: François Boucher and his Critics (2006). With Mark Ledbury, she is the editor of Rethinking Boucher (2006) and, with Jennifer Milam, of Women, Art and the Politics of Identity in Eighteenth-Century Europe (2003). She is the author of articles, book chapters and exhibition catalogue essays including “Troubling Identities and the Agreeable Game of Art: From Pompadour’s Theatrical ‘Breeches’ of Decorum to Drouais’ Portrait of Mme Du Barry en homme,” in Women and Portraits in Early Modern Europe: Gender, Agency, Identity (2008); “Rococo Redux: From Diderot to the Goncourts,” in Rococo: The Continuing Curve (2008); and “Confounding Conventions: Gender Ambiguity and François Boucher’s Painted Pastorals” in Eighteenth-Century Studies (1996).

Professor Hyde’s lecture is entitled “Needling: Embroidery and Satire in the Hands of the Saint-Aubins.” This talk will explore the themes of social satire and self-parody that are to be found in the illicit and uncensored drawings of the Livre de caricatures tant bonnes que mauvaises, a collaborative work produced over several decades of the eighteenth century by the Saint Aubins, a family of artists (and embroiderers). A private, though monumental work comprised of nearly 400 drawings, the Livre engages with a dizzying array of highly topical and often hermetic subjects. This lecture will focus on a few images that satirize “effeminate” men, particularly society men who reputedly practiced embroidery and other forms of needlework. The talk will consider how these images relate to similar thematics in contemporary theater and to broader cultural anxieties about the undue influence of women like Mme de Pompadour – one of the Saint Aubin’s patrons and a favorite target in the Livre de caricatures. Taking into account that the patriarchs of the Saint Aubin family were themselves extremely successful royal embroiderers, this talk will also address some of the ways in which the Livre playfully and self-reflexively parodies the Saint Aubins themselves.

Please RSVP and join us in the Lecture Hall at 38 West 86th Street, between Columbus Ave and Central Park West, at 5:45pm for a reception before the talk.