The (Drawing) Album and its Importance for 19th-Century Artistocratic Women Artists in Belgium

  • Wendy Wiertz (Speaker)

Activity: Talk or presentation typesOral presentation


During my research on nineteenth-century aristocratic amateur women artists in Belgium, I spent a lot of time in archives and private collections. What I often found, were albums filled with drawings and water colours by one or more individuals. Sometimes, these individuals also included a short text or dedication. Ann Bermingham, art historian and author of Learning to draw. Studies in the cultural history of a polite and useful art experienced the same in British collections and galleries, and she embarked on a study of the social and cultural processes that enabled drawing to emerge as an amateur pastime. Kim Sloan investigated the works of English amateur artists and their drawing masters, mostly collected in sketchbooks, and gave more insights in different mediums and techniques practiced by students and teachers. One subtype, the album amicorum, has been given much attention by literary scholars and (art) historians, such as Karl Graak, Eva-Maria Hanebutt-Benz, Hans Henning, Wolfgang Klose, Kees Thomassen, Perk Loesch, Ans J. Veltman-van den Bos, Jan de Vet, Aija Taimina and Sophie Reinders. They have focused on the origin of this album amicorum, its evolution and mentioned memory and friendship as the two main reasons why these albums were kept. Starting from the insights from the authors mentioned before, my question is twofold: What kind of albums were kept by nineteenth-century aristocratic amateur women artists in Belgium and why were these albums important to them? First, I briefly investigate the source of the word ‘album,’ the origin of the phenomenon and the different types of albums, before highlighting a selection of albums found during my research. This enables to discover why albums were important to these ladies.
Period26 Oct 2016
Event titleDrawing is Thinking. Thinking is Moving
Event typeConference
LocationBruxelles, BelgiumShow on map
Degree of RecognitionInternational