Covetousness and commodification: the eroticised female body and cultural representations of death by Natasha Shirman
The Victorian cult of mourning meant that the ritual of death became a visual affair, which placed women firmly at its centre. These gendered experiences of mourning and death raise interesting questions about the female body and how it was scrutinised, eroticised, and constructed by men. This article will explore constructions of the eroticised female form and their relationship to death by analysing a fabric bale label for ‘Best Black’ material which was manufactured by ‘Black’ Peter Robinson’s Mourning House (1860) and the painting Beata Beatrix by Dante Gabriel Rossetti (1864-1870). It will explore what these artefacts from two different mediums of visual culture can tell us about male representations of the female body, and how the form was used to popularise and ‘sell’ the visual cult of death.