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    ‘Exercising the ART as a TRADE’: professional women printmakers in England, c1750-c1850

    Lyons, Hannah (2022) ‘Exercising the ART as a TRADE’: professional women printmakers in England, c1750-c1850. PhD thesis, Birkbeck, University of London.

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    Abstract

    This study is the first to reconstruct and investigate the lives and output of professional women printmakers in England between c1750 and c1850, revealing that they were a significant and growing presence within the London print trade. Drawing upon the large number of understudied prints made and signed by women artists in public and private collections, this thesis takes a series of chronological case studies to fully illuminate the social and artistic contexts in which women printmakers lived and worked. Chapter One traces the etchings made by Angelica Kauffman and Maria Cosway. During their formative years working in London, these two Italian-trained painters creatively exploited the burgeoning market for etchings made by peintre-graveurs. Moving onto women artists who specialised in reproductive printmaking, Chapter Two outlines the significance of the family workshop. Revealing that official apprenticeships in printmaking were largely closed to young women in this period, this chapter seeks to enhance understanding of how the printmaking family offered invaluable training and networking opportunities for women, but also exposes the ways in which household and domestic duties could significantly impact their instruction. Chapters Three and Four conduct a deeper examination of the family home-cum-workshop via two familial case studies. Chapter Three reveals that sisters Letitia and Elizabeth Byrne faced institutional and commercial prejudices when trying to navigate the overcrowded market for landscape and topographical engraving, despite their skills. Chapter Four considers the ways in which Elizabeth Judkins deftly harnessed the new phenomenon of the public exhibition, whilst her niece, Caroline Watson, exploited the most fashionable ‘feminine’ techniques and genres of the day to unprecedented success, becoming ‘Engraver to the Queen’. Finally, Chapter Five explores the conflating experiences of amateur women printmakers in comparison to professionals. It highlights the ways in which several amateur printmakers engaged with the London market, thus revealing the inadequacies of the anachronistic ‘professional’ and ‘amateur’ artistic binaries. Together, these chapters show that the experiences of women printmakers in this period were diverse and varied. However, by interrogating their role and status within the London art world, this thesis reveals the critical contribution of women printmakers to the British print trade.

    Metadata

    Item Type: Thesis
    Additional Information: 2 Volumes - Volume One: Text, Volume Two: Figures
    Copyright Holders: The copyright of this thesis rests with the author, who asserts his/her right to be known as such according to the Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988. No dealing with the thesis contrary to the copyright or moral rights of the author is permitted.
    Depositing User: Acquisitions And Metadata
    Date Deposited: 15 Feb 2022 16:53
    Last Modified: 15 Feb 2022 16:55
    URI: https://eprints.bbk.ac.uk/id/eprint/47544

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