Lola Montez: The Fascinating Life of a Queen of Reinvention (1821-1861)

London Stereoscopic and Photographic Company, Portrait of Lola Montez, unknown date. Scottish National Portrait Gallery, PGP 837.28. Today I wanted to write about a female figure in history who completely fascinates me: Lola Montez. I first heard about Lola Montez in a song (a fantastic song you can find here) by Volbeat, and after listening…

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…

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…

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…

Laura Bassi (1711-1778): First Female Professor

Portrait of Laura Bassi: Carlo Vandi, eighteenth century. Wikimedia Commons: find the original here. The last couple of weeks I’ve been doing some reading about women travelling in Europe during the eighteenth century, and I came across a reference in letters sent between the Countesses of Pomfret and Hertford detailing the Countess of Pomfret, Henrietta…

Elena Cornaro Piscopia (1646 – 1684): First woman to gain a PhD

Portrait of Elena Cornaro Piscopia: unknown artist, possibly 18th century. Wikimedia Commons: find the original here.  Today marks 340 years since the first woman gained her PhD. In wake of the wonderful #ImmodestWomen explosion on Twitter, which has encouraged women to own their achievements and celebrate their PhDs and research following a stand made by…