Pre-Modern Women as Artists, Patrons and Collectors

Jamie Edwards, University of Exeter,

Elizabeth L’Estrange, University of Birmingham,

Edward Wouk, University of Manchester,

The study of women in pre-modern times is a well-established field that has generated important scholarship. But, as ongoing research shows, there is no shortage of new material yet to be analysed, or existing evidence that can be nuanced in the light of new methodological approaches. And whilst recent monographic exhibitions attest to the enduring appeal of ‘female artists’ in the ‘genius’ tradition (e.g. Anguissola, Gentileschi), new and ongoing work in the field points to different ways that women’s interaction with visual and material culture can be approached. The application of new digital and mapping technologies, meanwhile, is enabling scholars to propose alternative, non-linear narratives of pre-modern women’s lives.

We therefore invite proposals for papers exploring the role of women as artists, patrons and collectors in the medieval and early modern periods, broadly defined (c.400–1700). We encourage submissions that disrupt chronological and geographical conceptions of this period, or commonplace ideas surrounding ‘medieval’ or ‘early modern’ women. Papers considering non-Western subjects and materials, or which draw on new methodologies including digital ones, are also particularly welcome.

Papers may consider ruling and elite women, religious or secular ones, as well as laywomen. Possible topics include:

  • women as ‘makers’
  • women as patrons/collectors of paintings, sculptures, works on paper, or visual and material culture more broadly conceived
  • women and patronage of architecture or other large-scale ensembles
  • women and books (libraries, translators, writers)
  • women’s networks
  • gender and identity
  • inventories and women inheritors/benefactors
  • women in commerce (dealers, proprietors)
  • applying digital/mapping technologies to pre-modern sources
  • methodological and theoretical papers interrogating issues surrounding the study of pre-modern women.

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