Anna Jameson: A New Addition to Kassalow

We were recently lucky enough to receive a large book donation from the estate of H. Diane Russell.  Numbering at approximately 1,200 books, this comprehensive collection of Art History scholarship will greatly add to our already existing Kassalow collection.

One of the gems of this donation is a set of art books written by Anna Brownell Jameson.  Anna Jameson lived from 1794 to 1860.  Originally born in Ireland, she moved to Newcastle upon Tyne, England in 1802.  Her family then moved to London in 1806, where her father worked as a miniaturist for Princess Charlotte.  A precocious child, Anna greatly benefited from the education she received from her governess.  According to Anna Jameson’s niece Gerardine Macpherson, Anna educated herself “chiefly at her own will and pleasure. . . . She worked hard, but fitfully at French, Italian and even Spanish.”    In 1810 Anna began working as a governess, which gave her the opportunity to travel across Europe.  As a result of these travels Anna wrote her first book, A Lady’s Diary, published in 1826.  The book is a romanticized and fictionalized version of her European trip ending with the death of its heart-broken narrator and heroine.  The book was quite successful, and  Anna became the “lioness” of the hour in London society.  Anna continued with her travel writing, publishing a book on her travels in Canada entitled Winter Studies and Summer Rambles in Canada, in 1838.

Anna next delved into the art world.  She wrote a five-volume series called Sacred and Legendary Art. The first two volumes were published under this title in 1848, Legends of the Monastic Orders was published in 1850, Legends of the Madonna in 1852, and finally The History of Our Lord was published posthumously in 1864 and completed by Lady Elizabeth Eastlake.  This series established Anna Jameson’s reputation as an art critic.  She also contributed articles and reviews to a variety of respected British journals, as well as writing guidebooks to the public and private galleries of London.  In 1855 Anna had gave public lectures on working opportunities for women, and throughout her final years she acted as mentor and adviser to a group of young women, including Emily Faithfull, who began the English Woman’s Journal, and Barbara Leigh Smith Bodichon, a founder of Girton College.

We have an edition of Mrs. Jameson’s Sacred and Legendary Art series dating from 1890, published in London by Longmans and Company.  The books are pictured below:

We are fortunate to able to count works written by one of the first female art critics as part of our collection.

Information on Anna Jameson taken from Dictionary of Canadian Biography Online- Thomas, Clara.  “MURPHY, ANNA BROWNELL (Jameson)”.  2000 University of Toronto.  <http://www.biographi.ca/009004-119.01-e.php?&id_nbr=4101&PHPSESSID=0p59dd9drb4i3m7p3l29eq1pn7&PHPSESSID=0p59dd9drb4i3m7p3l29eq1pn7&gt;

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Trip to the National Gallery of Art

We kicked off the year with a trip to the National Gallery of Art.  As many of the first years are new to the D.C. area, this was their first time visiting the museum.  Since the National Gallery is a internationally renowned museum with an amazing collection, a visit here was definitely a good way to start the year.

We met in the Rotunda at 2:00, and started our visit by walking through the Renaissance Art collection.  We took a moment to pose with Genevra de’Benci, the only Leonardo Da Vinci in the United States-

Then we visited the Baroque and American collections, where we were particullary impressed by the work of El Greco.  After heading over to the East Building, we checked out the Munch exhibit currently on display.  It is an exciting exhibit to see, especially if your speciality is Modern European.  The exhibit consists of 60 of Munch’s prints.  Many of the works are from the same series.  For example, they have four different versions of Munch’s The Vampire from 1895, a work we looked at in Dr. Broude’s Cubism to Surrealism class.  In each version Munch produced the print with different techniques.  This was truly a fascinating glimpse into his working process.  One version of The Vampire can be seen below:

Other highlights included prints of The Scream and a series of Munch’s Madonnas. No photographs were allowed in the exhibit, but here we are standing by the entrance:

After walking around the NGA for three hours we were ready to rest.  We ended the day at the Austin Grill, where we had a chance to get to know each better and enjoy some good food.