AHRC Collaborative Doctoral Partnership: Fully-funded PhD studentship
Modern Mistresses on the Old Masters: nineteenth-century women writers on western European art – their networks and influence
Birkbeck, University of London (School of Arts)
The National Gallery, London
Application Deadline: 12 noon, 22nd April 2016.
Applications are invited for an AHRC-funded PhD studentship on the role of women as disseminators of knowledge about the Old Masters, focusing especially on those who induced a greater interest in the collection at Trafalgar Square. It explores the social and cultural history of the Gallery’s present-day efforts to democratize access to its collections and reach new audiences by examining the understudied critical and art-historical writings of nineteenth-century women, which typically had a more popular reach than that of their male counterparts while also speaking to specialists, then and now.
This studentship is one of a number awarded to the National Gallery, as part of the AHRC’s new Collaborative Doctoral Partnership Scheme.
The supervisors of the project have identified the following issues for research, although the student has the scope to develop both the topic and approach, in conjunction with the supervisors.
What contribution did Victorian women writers make to scholarship on the Old Masters in the National Gallery’s collection? Did women tend to write about particular artists and periods, and if so why? Did their work affect the canon? How was their work received, and what was its reputation? What has been the subsequent fortuna critica? How might it speak to modern audiences?
Through what networks were these women connected with the National Gallery? How important to their success were such networks and relationships? To what extent did these women’s writings affect acquisition and collecting behaviours at the National Gallery and in the private sphere? Were their opinions taken seriously by the institutional art world?
What forms did the work of women writers take, and to what audiences was it was addressed? What was the effect of their cross over between different genres and media? What was the role of the penny press in widening access to the Old Masters in the mid nineteenth century? Were women writers interested in the role of the National Gallery and other art institutions as places of advocacy for mass education?
This project will be supervised by Professor Hilary Fraser, Geoffrey Tillotson Chair in Nineteenth-Century Studies and Dean of Arts at Birkbeck, University of London, whose recent work focuses on women writers and the emergence of art history in the nineteenth century, and Dr Susanna Avery-Quash, Senior Research Curator in the History of Collecting at the National Gallery, whose research interests encompass the history of important private and public art collections.
This studentship will provide the student with invaluable academic skills and experience of working in a major national art museum, as well as deep understanding of women and nineteenth-century approaches to the Old Masters. It will involve the student in a range of interdisciplinary research activities, drawing on archival and primary textual material, various types of art collections and the resources of the National Gallery and Birkbeck.
In addition to working directly on the PhD thesis, it is envisaged that the student will also be engaged in a range of related activities, such as the delivery of research papers, assisting with conference organization, and contributing to a Room 1/Sunley Room exhibition at the National Gallery. She or he will also be expected to play a full role in the research cultures of both institutions.
Interviews: week commencing 9 May 2016.
Start of PhD: October 2016.
For application details, see: