CFP: Women Collectors in Britain and America c.1880-1939 (New York, 26-27 June, 2018)

Celebrating Female Agency in the Arts
Christie’s Education Academic Conference

New York, 26-27 June 2018

Call for Papers
Session Chair: Frances Fowle, University of Edinburgh

Women Collectors in Britain and America c.1880-1939


While Louisine Havemeyer, the feminist wife of a wealthy entrepreneur based in New York city, was one of the pioneering collectors of Impressionism in the USA, two spinster sisters and Calvinistic Methodists, Gwendoline and Margaret Davies, led the way in Britain. Despite their importance in the formation of taste in both countries, the contribution of women in the promotion and early patronage of impressionism and more modern art has only recently been recognized. To date the focus has largely been on major collectors such as the Cone sisters in Baltimore, or on artists such as Mary Cassatt, who promoted impressionism in the USA through her family and wider social circle. This session examines the role of women as collectors and agents, specifically of Impressionism and modern art, in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

The aim is not only to re-examine relatively well known collectors but to bring to light less well-known women of influence: female agents like the artist Lilla Cabot Perry who, through her close acquaintance with Claude Monet, persuaded a large number of middle-class collectors in Boston to acquire Impressionist pictures in the 1890s; women patrons such as Lillie P. Bliss in New York; and in Britain, ‘invisible’ women collectors whose contribution has been eclipsed by that of their husband or advisor.

Papers are invited on women collectors in America and Britain in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, addressing such issues as: their influence as ‘taste makers’; their role as patrons or philanthropists; their dependence on an agent or adviser; their social and marital status; their impact in relation to male collectors.

Proposals should be sent by email to Dr Frances Fowle ( by December 22, 2017 and should include:

Abstract (500 words) with short bibliography and a biography (250 words).

Authors will be notified of acceptance by January 12, 2018.
Speakers will be asked to submit an advanced draft of their final paper by April 27, 2018.