Art, Craft, and the Fin-de-siecle: Britain and Russia (Part 2)
The End of Empire: Women Artists in Britain and Russia, 1880-1917
Friday, 9 January 2015
Kenneth Clark Lecture Theatre, Courtauld Institute of Art, London
In the second half of the 19th century women became dominant players in the art scene in both Britain and Russia. At the turn of 19-20 centuries women in both countries became prominent as progressive sculptors, applied artists and painters. Women’s patronage of the arts was also especially strong at the time – they opened art schools and studios as well as art academies and galleries.
Our conference will look at the aspects of women’s artistic practice in Britain and in Russia at the fin-de-siècle. It has been inspired by the exhibition ‘A Russian Fairy-Tale: The Art and Craft of Elena Polenova’ (Watts Gallery, 15 November 2014 – 8 February 2015), which intends to draw attention to the important role played by women in rural areas within the Arts and Crafts Movement and also as educators and agents of social change. Mary Seton Watts (1849-1938), the second wife of British artist G.F. Watts, and Elena Polenova (1850-1898), the younger sister of Russian artist Vasily Polenov, were almost exact contemporaries. Both women trained as painters, but became leading artists of the Arts and Crafts Movement in their respective countries. Each woman also coupled her artistic talents with a desire to bring about dramatic and lasting transformations in their local communities. Continue reading