Abraham Bosse
French, 1602-1676

La Maitresse d' ecole (The Schoolmistress),
ca. 1635

Museum Purchase

Bosse's depiction of a private school for girls is both down-to-Earth and rationalistic. Little girls are tested in the rudiments by an eyeglassed female teacher, after being taught and helping each other in small groups. The highly regularized etching technique as well as the rigid design offset the humanity. Girls here are at least being taught. This is the dawn of the glorious French Age of Reason. But the inscription points out that soon "..the Child Cupid...will teach them without art what one soon knows in knowing how to love. So much for books! It almost sounds like Lolita! But one must remember the dawning feminist faith of the medieval poet Christine de Pizan, who answered yes to her own question as to "whether it has ever pleased God, who has bestowed so many favors on women, to honor the feminine sex with the privilege of the virtue of high understanding and great learning."

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