Poster announcing the Valencia Fair

Gran Feria de Valencia, 1934

Gender and body

Gender stereotypes: subject of history / allegory

Gender stereotypes: subject / object

The female allegory emerged in antiquity to personify civic virtues, designed by men. This inheritance of half-naked ideal women includes the Fatherland, Peace, Justice and others. The absolutist monarchies used the attributes of Athena/Minerva – tunic and cuirass which completely covered her breasts – to represent the nationalities, but also the regions. It was only with the French Revolution that the breast would be freed, creating a Liberty or Republic with the features of the mythical Amazons. This personification, Marianne, also displayed her enormous nurturing breast to suggest the equality of all persons before this new state. In Spain, national and regional allegories were ‘uncovered’ later and with some difficulty. The symbolic Valencian woman of the Fair posters sported her long tunic until 1920, when Vercher undressed her completely. This Deco trend rose with the triumph of republican ideas, blending political ideology with the cult of the healthy athletic body. Her breast remained as perfect and impersonal as those of the first marble statues.