History's Beauties: women and the nineteenth-century National Portrait Gallery
Perry, Lara (2006) History's Beauties: women and the nineteenth-century National Portrait Gallery Ashgate, London, UK. ISBN 0754630811
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The importance of Perry’s research is evidenced by the range of publications, including Sehepunkte, the Journal of the History of Collections, The Art Book, Reviews of History, Museum and Society, Oxford Art Journal, in which the work has been reviewed and cited, recognizing its engagement with debates from various disciplines including museum studies, cultural history and art history. It contributes particularly to a burgeoning literature on women’s role in the Victorian public sphere, and to understanding of the place of portraits in Victorian taste. The study uses an interdisciplinary method in order to probe a mode of representation involving both text and image, responding to a wide range of work from the 1980s and 1990s and analysing the representation of women in nineteenth-century art and literature. This investigation interrogates records of the acquisitions, administration, displays and visitors of the National Portrait Gallery in the nineteenth century. These are have been unused or under-utilised in previous scholarship. It situates that material in the wider practices of the visual and textual historical representation produced in Victorian England, and in the context of the political culture from which the National Portrait Gallery emerged. History’s Beauties deals with themes of gender, national identity, class cultures and aesthetics in Victorian England. This book was developed from doctoral research supported by a Commonwealth Scholarship and a research fellowship from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. The text was prepared with the assistance of a Paul Mellon Postdoctoral Fellowship, and it was published in Ashgate Press's series British Art and Visual Culture Since 1750: New Readings. It combines the methods and concerns of art history, institutional history, and feminist analysis in order to produce the first monograph study of gender in a major museum.
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