Love and authority in the work of Paula Rego

Narrating the family romance

By Ruth Rosengarten

Love and authority in the work of Paula Rego


  • Paperback

Book Information

  • Format: Hardcover
  • ISBN: 978-0-7190-8070-8
  • Pages: 256
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
  • Price: £80.00
  • Published Date: October 2010
  • BIC Category: Art History, Individual artists, art monographs, History of art, ART / History / Contemporary (1945-), ART / Individual Artists / Monographs, The arts / Individual artists, art monographs


Rosengarten explores the narrative operations of Rego's work by mobilising both psychoanalytic theory and social history. She confronts, as case studies, three complex figure paintings from different moments in Rego's oeuvre: The Policeman's Daughter (1987), The Interrogator's Garden (2000), and The First Mass in Brazil (1993).

The content of the three specimen paintings links them to the political context of the Estado Novo, the fascist-inspired regime that dominated Rego's childhood. Plotting links between the spheres of the political and the personal, Rosengarten throws light on the complex intertwining of state power and parental authority in Rego's work, focusing on the "labour of socialisation and resistance" that Rego's work evinces in relation to the Freudian model of the family romance.

Rosengarten unveils the political context of Portugal under Salazar, and the workings of colonial fantasy, Catholic ideology and gender construction. In prodding the inalienable link between love and authority, this study offers a reading of Rego's work that interrogates, rather than subverts, the Oedipal model structuring the patriarchal family.


Ruth Rosengarten is an artist and freelance art historian


1. Reading the Family Romance: Is there a feminist version?
2. Romancing the Father: The Policeman's Daughter
3. Men Don't Make Passes at Women with Moustaches: The Interrogator's Garden
4. Possession and Loss: The First Mass in Brazil
Conclusion: Painting History

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