CONF 21.04.2023

ESNA 2023 Conference: Beyond 'The Obstacle Race' (The Hague/online 1-2 Jun 23)

The Hague, RKD – Netherlands Institute for Art History / online, 01.–02.06.2023

Lotte Kremer

ESNA 2023 Conference: "Beyond ‘The Obstacle Race’: Women’s role in the history of 19th-century art revisited".

On the 1st and 2nd of June 2023, the 10th ESNA Conference "Beyond ‘The Obstacle Race’: Women’s role in the history of 19th-century art revisited" will take place organized by the European Society for Nineteenth-Century Art (ESNA) in collaboration with the RKD – Netherlands Institute for Art History.

Rephrasing John Donne’s famous poem, ‘No man or woman is an island entire of itself’, the 2023 ESNA conference investigates women’s interrelations within the art world and their impact on art objects and collections.

In recent years, the interest in women’s various roles within the art world has broadened, resulting in numerous exhibitions and acquisitions. This output has mainly responded to the underrepresentation of women in art history by either isolating them or adding them to pre-existing structures, publications, and institutions, and – most often – by referring to the obstacles they had to overcome.

Although we realize that for a woman in the nineteenth-century art word, there were indeed many obstacles to overcome, the 2023 ESNA conference will instead focus on the choices and possibilities women did have. In our ongoing quest for an inclusive society, it has become all the more clear that people live in relation to each other and create a world together. Our identities are defined by a manifold of intersecting and evolving features and practices. This conference tackles the diverse ways in which women took up different roles in relation to others in order to understand not only historic and present realities, but also the dynamics of art (history).

The 2023 ESNA conference thus takes a holistic and systemic approach to women’s roles in art during the nineteenth century. The papers explicitly present women makers, models, critics, dealers, museum professionals, collectors, and other mediators in relation to their historical context and within the broader art world. How did women work together with others, which networks and strategies did they use, run into, or create? Within these two days, we hope to set one more step towards a changed art history, where these female actors take their place as self-evident, interconnected, and permanent fixtures.

RKD – Netherlands Institute for Art History / or online
Prins Willem-Alexanderhof 5 (KB-complex)
2595 BE The Hague
The Netherlands


THURSDAY, June 1st, 2023

10:00 Welcome: Prof. dr. Chris Stolwijk (Director RKD – Netherlands Institute for Art History)
10:05 Introduction: Mayken Jonkman (ESNA and Rijksmuseum)

10:15-10:45 Keynote lecture: Dr. Mary Morton (National Gallery of Art, Washington DC): Sisters in success: Mary Cassat and Elizabeth Jane Gardner.

11:00-12:20 Session 1: Creation & Collaboration (Chair: Annemiek Rens, ESNA and Drents Museum, Assen)

Bram Donders, Museum Boijmans, Rotterdam: Mariane Meijer (1804-1886): looking beyond traditional art historical methods: studio practice, social network and institutional history.

Dr. Maria G. Moschou, independent scholar, Athens: Artistic education and female agency in Risorgimento Italy: The case of Eleni Boukouri-Altamura (c. 1821-1900).

Prof. Dr. Tom Verschaffel, University of Leuven: The limitations of a master’s influence: women painters in the network of Alfred Stevens.

13.30-14.50 Session 2: Strategies & Choices (Chair: Dr. Maite van Dijk, ESNA and director Museum More, Gorrsel)

Malika M’rani Alaoui (Ghent University and KU Leuven): Exhibiting women: strategies for success at the Belgian triennial salons.

Dr. Hanna Klarenbeek (Museum Paleis het Loo, Apeldoorn): Women can’t haggle: strategies of Dutch female artists on the art market in the 19th century.

Dr. Julie M. Johnson (University of Texas, San Antonio): Beyond the Obstacle Race in Imperial Vienna: the forgotten history of women as public artists.

15:20-17:00 Session 3: Writing & Guiding (Chair: Dr. Stefan Huygebaert, ESNA and Mu.ZEE, Oostende)

Dr. Maria Alambritis (National Gallery, London): Daughters of Corinne: putting art history on the map in women’s 19th-century guidebooks to Italy.

Dr. Eveline Deneer (University of Utrecht): ‘Les indiquer nominativement à l’admiration publique’: the work of women painters in French ladies’ almanacs, 1810-1840.

Dr. Laure Boyer (University of Lyon-Grenoble): Victoria Dubourg – Fantin-Latour (1840-1926): painter, archivist and historian of art in the second half of the 19th Century.


FRIDAY, June 2nd, 2023

09:30 Welcome: Dr. Marjan Sterckx (ESNA and Ghent University)

09:40-10:10 Keynote lecture: Dr. Jenny Reynaerts (ESNA and Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam): Not just a new figure in the studio: identifying the artist’s model.

10:45-12:05 Session 4: Manifestation & Reception (Chair: Dr. Rachel Esner, ESNA and University of Amsterdam)

Eva-Charlotta Mebius (Uppsala University and University of London): 19th-Century European artistic networks and the reception of Anna Boberg reconsidered.

Lisa Pregitzer (University of Giessen): Women-Only exhibitions and networks in late 19th-century France.

Alexandra Waszak (Université libre de Bruxelles): Geneviève Granger and Ernesta Robert-Mérignac: from the Unes to the Quelques, two women societies at the end of the 19th century.

13:30-15:10 Session 5: Support & Sabotage (Chair: Fleur Roos Rosa de Carvalho, ESNA and Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam)

Dr. Hanna-Leena Paloposki (Finnish Literature Society, Aalto University and the University of Helsinki): Tracing women artists’ networks in 19th-century Finland.

Dr. Apolline Malevez (Université libre de Bruxelles) Support systems: the hidden labour behind art making.

Marlies Stoter and Anne-Marie Segeren (Fries Museum, Leeuwarden): Kate Bisschop-Swift (1834-1928), artist and curator.

Anaëlle Vaissié (Paris Nanterre University): Male support and female success as China decorators: the example of France during the second half of the 19th century.

15:30-17:00 Session 6: Matronage & Patronage (Chair: Dr. Jenny Reynaerts, ESNA and Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam)

Dr. Nic Peeters (independent scholar, Antwerp): Lady Lindsay and the women artists of the Grosvenor Gallery (1877-1890): an exhibition strategy towards gender equality in Victorian London.

Mariëlle Ekkelenkamp (University of Amsterdam): Noblesse oblige: female art patronage in the Dutch Rembrandt Society, 1870-1940.

Dr. Lynne Ambrosini (Taft Museum of Art, Cincinnati): Collecting to serve a city’s culture: Anna S. Taft and Mary M. Emery of Cincinnati.

16:50-17:00 Conclusions: Dr. Rachel Esner (ESNA and University of Amsterdam)

- The conference language is English.
- Tickets are now available in the RKD webshop:
(Regular: € 75 / Students and online: € 25)

Please visit our website for more information on the program and ESNA:

CONF: ESNA 2023 Conference: Beyond 'The Obstacle Race' (The Hague/online 1-2 Jun 23). In:, 21.04.2023. Letzter Zugriff 15.07.2024. <>.