New Book | Women Artists in the Reign of Catherine the Great

Posted in books by Editor on February 25, 2023

From Lund Humphries:

Rosalind P. Blakesley, Women Artists in the Reign of Catherine the Great (London: Lund Humphries Publishers, 2023), 152 pages, ISBN: 978-1848225459, £45.

Book coverCatherine the Great’s audacious power grab in 1762 marked a watershed in imperial Russian history. During a momentous 34-year reign, her rapacious vision and intellectual curiosity led to vast territorial expansion, cultural advancement, and civic, educational and social reform. In this pioneering book, Rosalind Blakesley reveals the remarkable role women artists played in her pursuit of these ambitions. With challenging commissions for an elite cast of Russian patrons, their work underscores the extent to which cultural enrichment co-existed with the empress’s imperial designs.

Catherine’s acquisitions propelled renowned artists to new heights. The history paintings that she purchased from Angelica Kauffman brought the Swiss artist to the attention of keen new patrons, while Elisabeth Louise Vigée Le Brun found in Russia safe refuge from the horrors of revolutionary France. Just as important were Catherine’s relationships with lesser-known artists. The young sculptor Marie-Anne Collot made the arduous journey from Paris to St Petersburg to assist on the equestrian monument to Peter the Great and enthralled Russian society with her portrait busts, while Grand Duchess Maria Fedorovna, wife of Catherine’s troubled son Paul, sculpted cameos which the empress sent to distinguished correspondents abroad. With stories of extraordinary artistic endeavour intertwined with the intrigue of Catherine’s personal life, Women Artists in the Reign of Catherine the Great uncovers the impact of these and other artists at one of Europe’s most elaborate courts.

Rosalind Polly Blakesley, a prize-winning writer and academic, is Professor of Russian and European Art and a Fellow of Pembroke College at the University of Cambridge. A Trustee of the V&A and Syndic of the Fitzwilliam Museum, she has authored books including The Russian Canvas (Yale University Press, 2016) and The Arts and Crafts Movement (Phaidon Press, 2006), and curated exhibitions at the National Portrait Gallery, London, and the National Museum of Women in the Arts, Washington DC.


Conventions and Abbreviations

1  Inscribing a Future Empress
2  Catherine Enthroned
3  The Academy and the Hermitage
4  A Parisian Find
5  The Chisel and the Mallet
6  Unexpected Treasures
7  The Doyenne of Rome
8  An Artist in the Family
9  The Triumphant Refugee

List of Illustrations

Study Day | Women Collectors at the Turn of the 20th Century

Posted in conferences (to attend) by Editor on February 25, 2023

From the conference programme:

Her Discerning Eye: Women Collectors at the Turn of the 20th Century
The National Trust and Waddesdon Manor Annual Conference
Waddesdon Manor, 28 March 2023

We are delighted to announce the programme for Her Discerning Eye: Women Collectors at the Turn of the 20th Century. The conference will be held at Waddesdon Manor on Tuesday, 28th March. Our invited speakers will be talking on Joséphine Bowes, Yolande Lyne Stephens, Charlotte Schreiber, Hannah Gubbay, Queen Alexandra, and Queen Mary. The study day was inspired by our work on Margaret Greville and Alice de Rothschild. To book a place please email enquiries@waddesdon.org.uk. The conference is free; a charge for lunch will be payable on the day (please let us know of any dietary requirements). If you have any questions please do email us: Mia.Jackson@waddesdon.org.uk and Alice.Strickland@nationaltrust.org.uk.

–Mia Jackson and Alice Strickland


10.30  Registration and Coffee

11.00  Session One
• Tom Stammers (Associate Professor in Modern European Cultural History, University of Durham) — Recovering Female Collectors: Paradigms and Challenges
• Lindsay Macnaughton (Lecturer, University of Buckingham) — Some Fragments from the Boweses’ Collection and the Difficulties of Singling out Joséphine’s Taste
• Laure-Aline Griffith-Jones (Independent Art Historian) — Yolande Lyne Stephens: A French Collection in Victorian England

12.30  Lunch

13.30  Session Two
• Caroline McCaffrey-Howarth (Lecturer in French and British History of Art c.1650–1900, University of Edinburgh) — Charlotte Schreiber: Becoming a Ceramics Collector
• Mia Jackson (Curator of Decorative Arts, Waddesdon Manor) and Pippa Shirley (Director of Waddesdon Manor) — Alice de Rothschild’s Dishes and Daggers
• Patricia F. Ferguson (Independent Scholar) — Shaping Ceramic Connoisseurship: Mrs. David Gubbay, ‘Collector of Genius’

15.00  Session Three
Tour of the exhibition Alice’s Wonderlands: Alice as a Collector

16.00  Final Session
• Alice Strickland (Curator, National Trust) — ‘Full of Rare China and Expensive Treasures’: The Collection of Margaret Greville at Polesden Lacey, Surrey
• Caroline de Guitaut (Deputy Surveyor of The King’s Works of Art) — Embracing the Modern and Fashionable: Queen Alexandra as Collector
• Kathryn Jones (Senior Curator of Decorative Arts, Royal Collection Trust) — ‘Quite a Creditable Collection’: Queen Mary as Collector and Curator

17.30  Closing Comments — Mia Jackson and Alice Strickland

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