Mining various archives and newspaper repositories, Elizabeth Robins Pennell, Nineteenth-Century Pioneer of Modern Art Criticism provides the first full-length study of a remarkable woman and heretofore neglected art critic. Pennell, a prolific 'New Art Critic', helped formulate and develop formalist methodology in Britain at the end of the nineteenth century, which she applied to her mostly anonymous or pseudonymous reviews published in numerous American and British newspapers and periodicals between 1883 and 1923. A bibliography of her art criticism is included as an appendix. In addition to advocating an advanced way in which to view art, Pennell used her platform to promote the work of ’new’ artists, including Édouard Manet and Edgar Degas, which had only recently been introduced to British audiences. In particular, Pennell championed the work of James McNeill Whistler for whom she, along with her husband, the artist Joseph Pennell, wrote a biography. Examination of her contributions to the late Victorian art world also highlights the pivotal role of criticism in the production and consumption of art in general, a point which is often ignored.
Contents: Introduction; An aesthetic life; Pennell as a New Art critic (1890-1895); Fashioning Whistler’s legacy; The decline of the New Art criticism (1896-1912); Appendix; Bibliography; Index.
Kimberly Morse Jones is Visiting Assistant Professor of Art History, Sweet Briar College, USA.
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