An Imperial Collection: Women Artists from the State Hermitage Museum

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9781858941981: An Imperial Collection: Women Artists from the State Hermitage Museum

An Imperial Collection explores how women as patrons, painters, and subjects contributed to the cultural history of Russia. Eminent families formed collections and created artistic commissions that brought women artists to Russia and extended the influence of western European art to the royal court of the czars. Some women artists were allowed into the inner circles of the aristocracy, providing an "insider" view into the private side of court life.Artists whose works are explored in the book include Elisabeth Louise Vigee-Lebrun, who from 1795 to 1801 found refuge in St. Petersburg after the French Revolution forced her to flee her own country; French sculptor Marie-Anne Collot, who was commissioned by Catherine to produce a sculpture of Peter the Great, now one of the great landmarks of St. Petersburg; Scotswoman Christina Robertson, whose prestigious commissions to paint the women of the court give a refreshing perspective on the personal relationships of the Imperial family; and Angelica Kauffman, one of the few eighteenth-century women painters to tackle the challenging field of history painting, often with a heightened sensitivity to female roles. Works by these and many other women artists are explored in depth, alongside a ground-breaking study of the importance of the Academy of Arts, the bastion of the artistic establishment since it was founded by Empress Elizabeth in the mid-eighteenth century.This book will appeal to anyone interested in eighteenth-and nineteenth-century women artists, the history of Russian patronage of the arts, and Russian imperial history and culture.

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About the Author:

Jordana Pomeroy is Associate Curator of Nineteenth-Century Art at the National Museum of Women in the Arts, Washington, D.C.

Rosalind Gray is a lecturer in the history of art at Cambridge University, England.

From Publishers Weekly:

This collection of 15 women artists opens an appealing portal into the male-dominated Russian art world of the past few centuries. Pomeroy, curator of painting and sculpture at the National Museum of Women in the Arts, and Blakesley, a lecturer in art history at Cambridge, avoid the trap of arbitrarily grouping these women for the sake of a solid theme. Instead, they provide running biographical narratives for the painters, the sitters and the society they inhabited, arranged in more or less chronological sections covering 18th- and 19th-century works. The full-color images feature a multitude of women in satin and curls, but the often generic-seeming portraits have a complex iconography that the authors carefully unpack. Published to coincide with St. Petersburg's 300th anniversary, the detailed histories of these women reexamine the cultural life of the city by tracing the paths these works took on their way to the Hermitage. Readers learn that Christina Robertson ate a cold breakfast and refused a full luncheon while painting, and how much she was paid for her portrait of the Grand Duchess Alexandra Nikolaevna (1,572 rubles). Also included is Marie Louise Elisabeth Vigee-Lebrun, Marie-Antionette's favorite painter, who later escaped the French Revolution, ending up in St. Petersburg, and Angelica Kauffman, who never actually lived in Russia, but whose work Russian Emperor Paul I collected. As the first book to put these women artists, largely unkown to U.S. aficionados, side by side, it offers a broad picture of a significant group of artists boldly working within (or with an eye toward) Mother Russia.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Jordana Pomeroy (Editor), Rosalind P. Gray (Editor), Rosalind P. Blakesley (Editor)
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