Skip to main navigationSkip to main content
The University of Southampton
Lifelong Learning

Writing Art: Women Writers as Art Critics in the Long Eighteenth Century - one day conference 25 February 2017

Published: 25 February 2017
Chawton Estate
Chawton Estate

This one-day conference at Chawton House focuses on women writers as art critics in the late Georgian and early Victorian period.


Long thought to be the domain of wealthy men, art criticism and connoisseurship underwent a transformation in the late Georgian period. This one-day conference focuses on women writers as art critics in the late Georgian and early Victorian period. Bringing together leading art historians and literary scholars on women’s writing and art criticism, speakers will draw on travel writing and private letters, on diaries and on novels by major English and French authors. We will explore the role of women writers in the emerging field of art history, their contribution to an evolving language of taste, and the problems of trespassing on once-male territory. Can we find in women’s writing a distinctly female voice that engages with the making and the experience of art?

This conference is held in conjunction with the National Gallery, London—which hosts, on the 10th November 2017, a conference on women as critics of Old Master paintings in the Victorian period—and the Southampton Centre for Eighteenth-Century Studies.

10.00 - 10:30: Registration and tea/coffee

10:30: Stephen Lloyd (Knowsley Hall)

Walking tour of portraits in the Chawton House Library collection.

11:30: Susanna Avery-Quash (National Gallery, London)

'"I shall be truly proud if we succeed both in rescuing some examples, and in introducing them into England, where already there are a chosen few who adore them": the contribution of Lady Eastlake and her women friends to a new taste for early Italian art in Britain'.

12:15 Lunch

1:15: Emma Barker (Open University)

‘Statues and Pictures: Germaine de Staël on art’

2:00: Isabelle Baudino (Ecole Normale Superieure, Lyon)

‘Women travellers as art critics in Continental Europe’

2:45 Tea

3:15: Carl Thompson (St Mary's, Twickenham)

‘Maria Graham as art critic and connoisseur’

4:00: Departure


Funding for this conference is provided by Chawton House Library, the Women’s History Network, and the Southampton Centre for Eighteenth-Century Studies.

Registered UK Charity: 1118201


Tickets: £35; Students/Friends £30 (includes lunch and refreshments) To buy tickets, please visit our website or call 01420 541010
Privacy Settings