Around the middle of the nineteenth century, painters, novelists, playwrights, and theorists of architecture seized on the interior as a metaphor for selfhood, vision and spatiality. This book shows how and why the painted domestic interior, with figures positioned in provocative, even disturbing manners, figured so prominently in contemporary visual culture. In these expressive images, the notion and limits of identity were debated rather than resolved. Body, Place and Self in Nineteenth-Century Painting begins in the 1840s and examines the new ways of imagining and describing interior spaces. It ends in the years around World War I, when devastations of the war left countless with their sense of selfhood either nakedly exposed or totally destroyed. Wide-ranging analyses of key individual works, including Edgar Degas's Interior, John Singer Sargent's Daughters of Edward Darly Boit, and Edouard Vuillard's Mother and Sister of the Artist, form the core of this study.