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Picturing the family
Picturing the family

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3.4 Characterisation and sexual stereotyping

In attempting to characterise their sitters, 19th-century commercial photographers did not intend or attempt any serious psychoanalytical exploration of individual character such as we perceive it today in our post-Freudian world. They sought instead to stereotype by age and sex within a narrow range of positive virtues, which had previously been approved, within the conventions of painting: modesty, simplicity and chastity for women; dignity, strength and nobility for men.