Online Conversation | Paris Spies-Gans, A Revolution on Canvas

Posted in books, lectures (to attend), online learning by Editor on April 19, 2023

From the invitation:

Paris Spies-Gans and Martina Droth in Conversation | A Revolution on Canvas: The Rise of Women Artists in Britain and France, 1760–1830
Online, 3 May 2023, 12.00pm (Eastern Daylight Time)

Maria Cosway, The Duchess of Devonshire as Cynthia from Spenser’s ‘Faerie Queene’, 1781–82 oil on canvas (Chatsworth: The Devonshire Collection).

Please join the MA State Committee of the National Museum of Women in the Arts (MA-NMWA) and our sister committees in the UK and France for an exciting virtual event on Wednesday, 3 May 2023. Paris Spies-Gans and Martina Droth will discuss Spies-Gans’ important first book, A Revolution on Canvas: The Rise of Women Artists in Britain and France, 1760–1830.

Just as the National Museum of Women in the Arts founder Wilhelmina Cole Holladay sought to challenge the assumption that there have been ‘no great women artists’ by collecting and publicly exhibiting many indisputably ‘great’ works of artist women, so too has Paris Spies-Gans investigated the same assumption, through evidence-based analysis. Her body of work includes site and time-specific research that reveals how women have found ways to achieve critical and commercial success despite the obstacles they have faced. Both women—Wilhelmina, the collector, and Paris, the scholar—intend their work not as end-points but as part of ongoing discussion and learning. Tracing the activity of more than 1,300 women who exhibited more than 7,000 works of art across genres at premier exhibition venues in London and Paris throughout the Revolutionary era, the book demonstrates that women artists professionalized in significant numbers a century earlier than scholars have previously thought.

Paris Spies-Gans’s scholarship and resultant discoveries complement the mission of the National Museum of Women in the Arts and its committees, three of which are presenting this event. Martina Droth, as interlocutor, will use her expertise to contextualize the material in A Revolution on Canvas: The Rise of Women Artists in Britain and France, 1760–1830. We hope you can join us for what promises to be a fascinating discussion. Although this event is free of charge, advance registration is required; details about the event will then be sent to registered attendees. International guests are invited to use this email to register: contact@ma-nmwa.org.

Paris Spies-Gans is a historian and historian of art with a focus on women, gender, and the politics of artistic expression. She holds a PhD and MA in History from Princeton University, an MA in Art History from the Courtauld Institute of Art, and an AB in History and Literature from Harvard University. Her work prioritizes women artists and their writings, paintings, drawings, sculptures, prints, illuminating how women have navigated sociopolitical barriers to participate in their societies through diverse forms of intellectual and creative expression, even with the obstacles they regularly faced—and especially at moments of political revolution and change. Her first book, A Revolution on Canvas: The Rise of Women Artists in Britain and France, 1760–1830, was published by the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art in Association with Yale University Press in June 2022. It was named one of the top art books of 2022 by The Art Newspaper and The Conversation and received the American Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies’ Louis A. Gottschalk Prize, Honorable Mention, for an outstanding historical or critical study on the eighteenth century. She is currently working on her second book, A New Story of Art (Doubleday/US and Viking/UK).

Martina Droth is Deputy Director and Chief Curator of the Yale Center for British Art, where she oversees collections, exhibitions, and publications. Her curatorial work and research focus on sculpture and British art. She was the Chair of the Association of Research Institutes in Art History from 2016 to 2022. Current and recent curatorial projects include: Bill Brandt | Henry Moore (Hepworth, Sainsbury Center, and YCBA, 2020–23); Things of Beauty Growing: British Studio Pottery (YCBA and Fitzwilliam Museum, 2017–18); and Sculpture Victorious: Art in an Age of Invention, 1837–1901 (YCBA and Tate Britain, 2014–15). Prior to joining the Center, she was at the Henry Moore Institute in Leeds, where her exhibitions included Taking Shape: Finding Sculpture in the Decorative Arts (HMI and John Paul Getty Museum, 2008–2009) and Bronze: The Power of Life and Death (HMI, 2005). Her forthcoming projects include an exhibition on Hew Locke.

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