Allen Memorial Art Museum, Oberlin College

The Human Comedy: Chronicles of 19th-Century France

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George Sand

George Sand

Alcide Joseph Lorentz (French, 1813–1891) George Sand, 1842 Lithograph Gift of Eugene L. Garbaty, 1951.87.4

This caricature, or portrait charge, of feminist writer George Sand (pseudonym of Amandine Aurore Lucie Dupin Dudevant) is typical of strategies used by the press to trivialize her literary accomplish-ments by focusing attention on her cross-dressing instead of her ideas.

An unconventional agreement with her husband al-lowed Sand to live independently in Paris, where she often wore men’s clothing. Sand’s memoirs describe the freedom afforded by men’s attire: “[...] I had made for myself a redingote-guérite (a man’s overcoat) in heavy gray cloth, pants and vest to match. [...] I can’t express the pleasure my boots gave me: I would gladly have slept with them on [...] With those little iron-shod heels, I was solid on the pavement. I flew from one end of Paris to the other. […] I ran out in every kind of weather, I came home at every sort of hour, I sat in the pit at the theater. No one paid attention to me, and no one guessed at my disguise... No one knew me, no one looked at me, no one found fault with me; I was an atom lost in that immense crowd.”

“If about George Sand this portrait / leaves the viewer a bit perplexed, / It’s because genius is abstract / And, as we all know, has no sex.”