Author Biography

Danielle Ezor is a doctoral candidate in the RASC/a: Rhetorics of Art, Space and Culture Ph.D. Program in Art History at Southern Methodist University. She received her B.A. in art history and studio art from Wellesley College and her M.A. in art history from the Williams Graduate Program in the History of Art. At Williams, Ezor worked in the Manton Study Center for Works on Paper at the Clark Art Institute. She has also spent time as a research intern in the Art of Europe Department at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Her dissertation titled, ‘Constructing Whiteness at the Dressing Table: Race, Gender, and Materiality in Eighteenth-Century France and the French Caribbean’, questions how eighteenth-century vanity items such as makeup boxes, perfume vials, etui kits, sugar pots, coffee, tea, and chocolate implements and their corresponding consumables—makeup, perfume, coffee, tea, chocolate, sugar—not only allow for but actively construct white femininity, often at the expense of forced black labor. Other interests include print culture, the art of the book, and queer theory.


Historically, Jean-Siméon Chardin’s The Kitchen Maid and Return from the Market have been characterized as austere images of middle-class virtue. However, the engravings made after these paintings include verses that place the paintings within the satirical tradition. Thus, there is a misalignment between the canonical interpretation of Chardin’s kitchen maids as virtuous and the satirical understanding of these paintings. I reconcile these two contradictory interpretations by offering a feminist reinterpretation of Chardin’s The Kitchen Maid and Return from the Market, juxtaposing the prints and their satirical verses and considering the female viewer. In my analysis, I focus on small, disquieting details that seem to be out of place in Chardin’s œuvre, the effect of stopped time within these paintings, and the women’s expressions. From these details, I argue that Chardin’s women are neither the one-dimensional figures of domestic bliss nor the comedic stereotype, but rather women with agency, offering a feminist reinterpretation of these canonical works.


Chardin, kitchen maid, The Kitchen Maid, Return from the Market, print, print culture, servant, maid