Gender and Patronage: Three Women Collectors of Contemporary Chinese Art

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Published conference proceedingConference contributionpeer-review


    It is often claimed that lack of female patronage was partially to blame for the lack of successful female artists prior to modernity. Recent research has shown that female patronage can be traced as far back as the Renaissance, if not earlier. Moreover, a small number of women spent lavishly on the arts; commissioning the best artists at the time. And yet, until modernity few women artists could support themselves independently. In order to act as patrons of the arts women required access to financial means and until modernity there were legal restrictions on their ability to hold property in their name. Women patronage during the pre-modern period could be seen to fall into four broad categories: daughters, wives, widows or nuns. Whilst today women can have access to funds in their own name this paper will argue that the changes that allow some women artists to flourish today are not in direct relationship to the patronage of women collectors.

    The paper looks at three case studies of living women who play a role in the patronage of contemporary Chinese art: Judith Neilson, Dominique Levy and Rita Sigg. It will argue that what has changed since the early Renaissance is the professionalism of the art world where artists and collectors are mediated by dealers, curators, academics, auctioneers, media, branding, design and publicity firms and much much more. Moreover, these roles may overlap, collectors may also be dealers, curators and more. It is through these other professionalised roles that women artists can find patronage and support.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationAssociation of Art Historians Annual Conference University of Loughborough
    Publication statusUnpublished - Apr 2017


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