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The Hugo Helbing Lecture 2023 // Frances Fowle: Invisible Agents - Women Collectors and the Art Market



von 18:30 bis 20:30


Zentralinstitut für Kunstgeschichte, Vortragsraum 242, II. OG | digital

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Until recently women’s agency in the arts, both as collectors and museum patrons, has been largely overlooked. The nineteenth century saw the development of the modern art market, creating opportunities for women to assert their independence in the cultural sphere. In particular, they played a pioneering role in the early reception of modern French art and also as collectors of the decorative arts. Nevertheless, their influence as tastemakers has frequently been downplayed or even completely overlooked. Focusing on the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, this lecture explores the role of women collectors as tastemakers and philanthropists in Europe and the USA, and considers such issues as class, philanthropy, financial independence, gender bias, the role of the art dealer, social networks and nationalism. In particular it explores the ways in which women historically have been ‘erased’ from collecting history, their role often overshadowed by a husband, agent or advisor, or their names missing from stockbooks and dealer correspondence. Examples will include Bertha Palmer in Chicago, Helene Kröller-Müller in the Netherlands and the Davies sister and Elizabeth Workman in Britain.


Prof. Dr. Frances Fowle is Chair of Nineteenth-Century Art at the University of Edinburgh and Senior Curator of French Art at the National Galleries of Scotland. She is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, Chair of the Association for Art History, Senior Trustee of the Burrell Collection, Glasgow, and co-founder and a recent board member of TIAMSA (The International Art Market Studies Association).
Frances is a specialist in collecting and the art market with a focus on Impressionism and Post-Impressionism. Her publications include Van Gogh’s Twin: The Scottish Art Dealer Alexander Reid (2010) and Globalising Impressionism: Reception, Translation and Transnationalism (2020). She has also curated and contributed to numerous international exhibitions, notably Degas and America: the Early Collectors (2000), Van Gogh and Britain: Pioneer Collectors (2006); Impressionism and Scotland (2008) and, most recently, A Taste for Impressionism (2022) which examined, among other things, the role of female donors. She is currently editing a book on the Art Market and the Museum, with a focus on ‘Women as Agents and Influencers’, for Bloomsbury Publishing.

[Caption: The female Conoiseur, 1852, British Museum]



The lecture will take place in a hybrid format. You can either attend in-person or virtually via Zoom. You can join the Zoom meeting at the following link: Meeting-ID: 856 5934 5839 | Passwort: 148258.