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…

Titian and the Alabaster Room

Bacchus and Ariadne, by Titian. 1520-3, oil on canvas (National Gallery, London, NG35) I haven’t written a blog in a while and inspiration struck recently when I was flicking through some art books (even though I don’t technically do History of Art anymore, I can’t let it go!) and rediscovered my favourite painting, Bacchus and…

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…

Raphael and La Fornarina

Rome, from the Vatican. Raffaelle, Accompanied by La Fornarina, Preparing his Pictures for the Decoration of the Loggia by J. M. W. Turner, exhibited 1820, oil on canvas (Tate Britain, N00503) For the three hundredth anniversary of Raphael’s death, which occurred on Good Friday in 1520 (supposedly the artist's thirty-seventh birthday), J. M. W. Turner…