Victorian women artists’ works are often omitted from accounts of nineteenth-century art, leaving an incomplete and damaged picture of artistic developments. Women artists of the period remain largely misunderstood as incidental artists whose work is considered secondary to, and imitative of, their better-known male counterparts. Edward Burne-Jones’s painting The Mill (1870-1882, V&A) - on permanent display in the Ionides Room - depicts three women artists whose work has received next to no consideration. Three Graces makes the paintings, sculptures, textiles and costume designs of the artists depicted in The Mill - Marie Spartali Stillman, Maria Zambaco and Aglaia Coronio - visible to popular and critical audiences. It provides a unique opportunity to engage with these women’s works both together and in relation to works by their male counterparts. It demonstrates that Victorian women artists variously developed, critiqued and enabled that of male artists, and vice versa.
The Three Graces project has developed and deepened the mutually beneficial knowledge exchange partnership that has been in place between the University of York’s History of Art Department and the Victoria & Albert Museum since 2010. Both consolidating and extending the partnership between institutions by building on the existing scholar exchange programme. Dr. Katie J. T. Herrington’s project at the V&A brings into focus an under-studied, but crucial, field of the arts and humanities, fostered through teaching and research at University of York. Through a series of project-related events, her work has opened up possibilities for involvement and enrichment at the V&A for a wider network of the York research community (including those in History of Art, Women’s Studies and Nineteenth-Century Studies) and for the wider public.
Funding: £40,000 from the Arts and Humanities Research Council
Duration: Three months from February 2013
Cultural Engagement Project Fellow: Dr Katie J. T. Herrington
Collaborative Institutions: Humanities Research Centre and Department of History of Art, University of York, and Victoria & Albert Museum, London (Prof. Judith Buchanan at York and Dr. Glenn Adamson at the V&A oversee the project)
The Three Graces: Victorian women, visual art and exchange Virtual Exhibition, hosted on the Department of History of Art's Research Portal, was launched via a preview exhibition in the 3Sixty Space, Ron Cooke Hub, Heslington East Campus, University of York on Sat 29th Jun 2013.
The V&A Podcast episode Inside Women Artists and the V&A, an audio interview with Dr. Glenn Adamson (Head of Research, V&A) featuring co-host Dr. Katie Tyreman Herrington and guests Prof. Deborah Cherry (Associate Dean of Research, London College of Communication) and Rebecca Salter (Contemporary British Artist) is now available to stream on the exhibition site.
Katie Jane Tyreman Herrington was awarded her doctorate in History of Art for her thesis, Between Women: Visualizing Victorian Women Artists’ Identities through Art Movements, Media and Scale, c. 1848-1898, which she completed in the Department of History of Art, University of York (UK), in January 2013. Her art-historical interests lie in nineteenth-century British and European art and she is particularly concerned with the material qualities of Victorian paintings. Herrington's doctoral research focused on artworks produced by a number of women artists who worked beyond predetermined categories and between disciplines and media and explored their formation of specific artistic identities through their art.
Dr Katie J. T. Herrington
Three Graces: Victorian women, visual art and exchange
Victoria & Albert Museum