REVIEW: “Only A Novel: The Double Life of Jane Austen”, by Jane Aiken Hodge

Today Agora Books are re-publishing Jane Aiken Hodge’s study of Jane Austen, and I was lucky enough to have been gifted an advance copy to review, so thank you Agora! As anyone who knows me might have guessed, I jumped at the chance to review a book about not only my favourite author but also…

Rosalba Carriera (1675-1757)

A Muse, Rosalba Carriera, mid-1720s, pastel on laid blue paper (Getty Museum, 2003.17) Digital image courtesy of the Getty's Open Content Program. On Monday 12th June 1741, Henrietta Fermor, Countess of Pomfret, was exploring Venice with her travel companions. She had been on a Grand Tour with her husband and two of her daughters since…

Leonardo da Vinci: A Life in Drawing

2019 marks five hundred years since the death of Leonardo da Vinci, and the Royal Collection are commemorating this with the exhibition Leonardo da Vinci: A Life in Drawing. I say “the” exhibition but actually, it consists of twelve simultaneous exhibitions in art galleries across the UK, containing 144 drawings from the Royal Collection. It’ll…

A Wander round Eighteenth-Century Rome with a Georgian Lady

Ever wondered what Rome was like in the eighteenth century, in the age of Grand Tourists, endless art shopping and constant archaeological excavation? Well here are the adventures of Henrietta Femor, the Countess of Pomfret, who took to the continent with her husband and two eldest daughters from 1738 to 1741. Henrietta detailed all of…

A Visit to the Pompidou: The Day I Fell in Love with Matisse

Last week I got to banish the January blues and Wednesday “hump day” in one fell swoop with a day trip to Paris with my sister. We got a nice and early Eurostar from London, ate croissants on the way there (to get us in the right mood of course!) and had a whirlwind day…

Eighteenth-Century Men mansplain Women’s History: William Alexander’s “The History of Women, from the Earliest Antiquity, to the Present Time”, 1796

A Man and a Woman seated by a Virginal, Gabriel Metsu, c.1665, oil on oak (National Gallery, London, NG839) My recent research has had me reading lots of histories of women written in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, which has been a lot more amusing than it might sound. Of course, this is a really…

What women really thought about “Grand Tourists” in the eighteenth century…

A Caprice Landscape with Ruins, in the style of Bernardo Bellotto, 1740-1800, oil on canvas (National Gallery, London, NG 135) When reading about the eighteenth century and the treasures that came into the country house, it might seem a little bit like only young men were travelling to the continent to undertake the rite of…