Malkin Lecture: Providing a Platform for Women Painters

One of the most prominent monthly periodicals of the Gilded Age, Scribner’s Monthly/The Century was recognized for its extensive coverage of the arts in America. Its senior editor Richard Watson Gilder understood the expanding public desire for all things cultural, and devoted substantial space in its pages to the flourishing art scene, reporting on current exhibitions, collections, and artistic associations. Many of the ideas found in its featured articles and editorials were a result of Gilder’s close relationships with this “modern” art world, connections that resulted from his marriage to Helena de Kay. An important catalyst in the formation of such vital New York institutions as the Arts Students League and the Society of American Artists, De Kay held weekly evening gatherings in their home, creating a stimulating environment for young artists, including a number of prominent women painters. Aware of their important contributions and talents, the periodical hired women as illustrators, featured women painters working at home and abroad in articles, and also published reviews by female critics. Examining the vital role that the Gilders and the periodical played in supporting, developing and publicizing emerging female painters, illustrators, and critics, the lecture will explore the role of Scribner’s/The Century as a progressive mouthpiece for women artists in a burgeoning American art world.

Page Knox is an adjunct professor in the Art History Department of Columbia University, where she received her PhD in 2012. She teaches Art Humanities and summer courses on American Art and Trans-Atlantic Exchange during the 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries. Knox also works in a variety of capacities at The Metropolitan Museum of Art: she gives public gallery talks and lectures in special exhibitions and the permanent collection; teaches classes at the museum; and, more recently, leads groups for Travel With The Met. Knox’s dissertation, “Scribner’s Monthly 1870–1881: Illustrating a New American Art World,” explored the significant expansion of illustration in print media during the 1870s, using Scribner’s Monthly as a lens to examine how the medium changed the general aesthetic in American art in the late 19th century. She continues to publish and lecture at conferences on the subject and is a contributing author for a recently released text book on the history of illustration.

In the Loge, Mary Cassatt, 1878 Boston Museum of Fine Arts.


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