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Annual Henri Zerner Lecture: Imprints and Erasures—A New Story of Art

April 23 @ 6:30 pm - 8:00 pm


In countless ways, women have been erased from the history of art. Their exhibited works have been falsely attributed to their male peers; their once-collected paintings have been left to deteriorate in museum storerooms; and many art historical accounts have questioned women’s very ability to create “great” art. We can even track the gradual removal of women’s names from the historical record in moments of deliberate, posthumous eradication. However, a growing mountain of evidence demands we recognize that women artists may have always existed—and were often quite prominent in their own places and times.

In her lecture, art historian Paris A. Spies-Gans will share this troubling history and present a series of recent discoveries that challenge the powerful, gendered assumptions that continue to inflect our views of the past. By recovering the traces of women artists—the imprints they left behind—we can update essential parts of art history’s most enduring narratives.

Paris A. Spies-Gans is a historian of art with a focus on women and the politics of artistic expression. She holds a Ph.D. in history from Princeton University, an M.A. in art history from the Courtauld Institute of Art, and an A.B. in history and literature from Harvard College. Her research has been supported by fellowships from the Harvard Society of Fellows, the J. Paul Getty Trust, the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art, and the Yale Center for British Art, among other institutions. Her first book, A Revolution on Canvas: The Rise of Women Artists in Britain and France, 1760–1830, was published by Yale University Press in 2022. It has won several prizes in the fields of British art history and 18th-century studies and was named one of the top art books of 2022 by The Art Newspaper and The Conversation. She is currently working on her second book, A New Story of Art, which will be published by Doubleday.

The lecture will take place in Menschel Hall, Lower Level. Doors to the hall will open for seating at 6pm.

Limited complimentary parking is available in the Broadway Garage, 7 Felton Street, Cambridge.


April 23
6:30 pm - 8:00 pm
Event Category:


Harvard Art Museums
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Harvard Art Museums
32 Quincy Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
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