Over the course of the nineteenth century, women in Britain participated in diverse and prolific forms of artistic labour. As they created objects and commodities that blurred the boundaries between domestic and fine art production, they crafted subjectivities for themselves as creative workers. By bringing together work by scholars of literature, painting, music, craft and the plastic arts, this collection argues that the constructed and contested nature of the female artistic professional was a notable aspect of debates about aesthetic value and the impact of industrial technologies. All the essays in this volume set up a productive inter-art dialogue that complicates conventional binary divisions such as amateur and professional, public and private, artistry and industry in order to provide a more nuanced understanding of the relationship between gender, artistic labour and creativity in the period. Ultimately, how women faced the pragmatics of their own creative labour as they pursued vocations, trades and professions in the literary marketplace and related art-industries reveals the different ideological positions surrounding the transition of women from industrious amateurism to professional artistry.
Kyriaki Hadjiafxendi is Senior Lecturer at Bath Spa University, UK.
Patricia Zakreski is Lecturer at the University of Exeter, UK.
’This exciting, insightful and thoughtful collection complicates the concept of the professional woman artist, blurring the boundaries between the so-called domestic crafts and art production.’ Janice Helland, Queen’s University, Canada
'C’est l’analyse de forms artisanales/artistiques mineures qui fait la force de cet ouvrage, notamment en mettant en valeur la production des femmes artistes mal connues ou anonymes. De plus, l’analyse des procédés de fabrication de l’artiste qui se construit ou est construit comme un bien de consommation ou une oeuvre d’art apporte un éclairage nouveau sur les femmes célèbres comme George Eliot, Elizabeth Braddon ou Michael Field.' Cahiers Victoriens et Edouardiens
'... [it is] an excellent publication, which has the potential to significantly shape future research ... The book aims to dismiss the simplistic idea that there was continuous progress for middle-class women from amateurs into professionals during this period. [The book] instead provides a more nuanced understanding of the complex relationship between gender, artistic labour, and creativity.' Zoe Thomas, Reviews in History