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Exhibit Catalog to the Morris County Historical Society's "Out of the Closet" Exhibition

Hunting and Fishing

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hunting.jpg

Edmond Adolphe Rudaux
Hunting
Circa 1869
Engraving on paper
11 1/4 x 15 1/2 in.
 

fishing.jpg

Edmond Adolphe Rudaux
Hunting
Circa 1869
Engraving on paper
11 1/4 x 15 1/2 in.

The Engravings

 

This pair of engravings pokes fun at the Victorian sensibilities surrounding courtship and romance. As the two young men seem much more interested in pursuing the affections of their female companions than hunting or fishing, the titles "Hunting" and "Fishing" play on idea that in a Victorian romantic relationship, the man was seen as the pursuer and the woman as shy and delicate. It is interesting to note that while the man in "Hunting" comes across as more aggressive (which fits nicely with the idea of hunting), the man in "Fishing" seems more patient and willing to wait for his affections to be returned.

 

 

 

The Etiquette of Courtship

 

In the nineteenth century, much advice was written on marriage – not just the format of the wedding, but of the correct values for forming an engaged couple.  A suitable upper-class marriage had the following qualifications:

 

The first requisite in a companion for life is piety.  Another indispensable requisite is an amiable disposition.  The person of your choice must possess a well-cultivated mind.  His sentiments and feelings on general subjects must be congenial with your own.  Another requirement is energy of character.  Lastly, the person of your choice must be nearly your own age.

 

For the "lower classes," the requirements were fewer in number and specificity.  It was desirable that the man with whom the connection had been formed should possess a sound body.  Also desirable were manners, sound judgment, prudence, and religion.

 

Having found a suitable partner, young people and their families had plenty of additional advice to follow.  A young man was to present his fiancée with an engagement ring, the price of which was suited to his worldly means.  It was considered improper for an engaged woman to travel alone with her fiancé or to stay at the same hotel with him.  According to the strictest rules of etiquette, it was even improper for a young lady to go to theaters, concerts, or parties alone with her fiancé, or to drive with him in the evenings or on unfrequented roads.  It was not deemed fit for a married woman to act as a bridesmaid.  It was considered unlucky to have wedding presents marked with the bride's future name or initials.

 

The following excerpt from a Victorian-era etiquette book gives some additional advice concerning courting and engagement:

 

Parents must remember that they were once young themselves and that those birds that are not allowed to mate in youth often do not mate at all.  Remember that premature congratulations and untimely pokes have frightened more than one timid man out of his matrimonial intention.

 

 

 

The Artist: Edmond Adolphe Rudaux

 

A French painter and etcher of genre scenes, Edmond Rudaux studied art in Paris under Lanielle, LeClaire and Boulanger. His first exhibition of art at the prestigious Paris Salon was in 1863. Throughout his career as both a painter and an original etcher, Rudaux concentrated upon charming scenes of romance and rustic occupations. His eldest son, Henri Edmond Rudaux, also became well known as a painter of genre scenes.