Christiana Herringham: artist, campaigner, collector
January 16, 2019 12:15 PM   Subscribe

Christina Herringham (1851–1929) was a founder and benefactor of the National Art Collections Fund in 1903. Her career as an artist and art writer is less well known. Herringham undertook early experimentation with tempera painting alongside her translation of Cennino Cennini’s (c.1370-c.1440) treatise on painting techniques [1st ed., 2nd ed. via]. Herringham’s meticulous approach to understanding “medieval art methods” was a catalyst for the foundation of the Society of Painters in Tempera. Her writing for the art press [Burlington Magazine, no free previews] ... reveals her expertise on the technical aspects of connoisseurship. 'The greatest living critic': Christiana Herringham and the practise of connoisseurship [PDF, abstract from University of Sussex].

The 25 page paper, written by Meaghan Clarke, discusses her Herringham's work as a critic and collector, though skims over her work in India, which included a journey to Hyderabad to record the fading Buddhist paintings, and culminated in the publishing of Ajanta Frescoes by Lady Herringham, including the plates []. But the paper doesn't touch on her commitment to women's suffrage and well-being :
Herringham also used her money to improve the lives of women, and her close friendship with Millicent Fawcett and her sisters saw Herringham heavily involved in the fight for women’s right to vote. She donated money to found scholarships for women’s education, and was one of the founding directors of the Ladies’ Residential Chambers & Co., which built housing for ‘educated working women’.
Christiana Herringham's history is largely forgotten or overlooked, perhaps in part because of her decline. As noted by Dr Laura MacCulloch, College Curator at Royal Holloway:
"As with the case of many women artists her reputation has been overshadowed by the men of her time, this has not been helped by that fact that late in life she suffered from mental health issues and ended her days in an asylum."
[Royal Holloway]

Per Mary Beard, Christiana "spent more than fifteen years before her death - from even before her book was published - in private 'asylums', increasingly troubled that she had trespassed on sacred territory." [How Do We Look: The Body, the Divine, and the Question of, on Amazon and Goodreads]
posted by filthy light thief (4 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Unfortunately, I wasn't able to find much of Christiana Herringham's artwork online, except some small previews from Royal Holloway in various articles on past gallery shows, and I didn't find anything approaching in-depth biographies of her online, either. The snippets I could read from Mary Lago's Christiana Herringham and the Edwardian Art Scene (Google books preview; Amazon; Worldcat) looks promising.
posted by filthy light thief at 12:19 PM on January 16, 2019

How can this post not have any other comments??

For anyone coming across this, there's an exhibition running now about Christiana Herringham's life - it's at Royal Holloway, University of London, through 8 March 2019 (referenced in Royal Holloway link above): "This is the first exhibition of her work in over 70 years and includes many pictures never seen in public before." I wish I could go!

Instagram results for #christinaherringham and #herringham. Some photos are related to the Royal Holloway exhibit.

Here's an entry from 2008 about her from a blogger (alice c) in The Magpie Files. "On Friday afternoon I had an unexpected email asking if I had a painting by Lady Herringham in my office. I didn't but I was intrigued and flicked onto Google to find out more about her..."

Flipping through the Ajanta Frescoes book on was interesting; also thought this side-by-side comparison of an original vs. her reproduction interesting. (The file is linked from the wikipedia pages for Herringham and the Ajanta Caves. )

Flickr results for Ajanta Caves and herringham christiana.

filthy light thief, this is a really nice profile of Lady Herringham and I hadn't known about her. What you couldn't have known is how much this post turned out to mean to me on a personal level. I was going through the links in your post, I first saw the mention of Roger Fry and thought, "Wait a minute -- he was E.M. Forster's friend...the same Roger Fry?" And yes of course it was the same person (from the Bloomsbury Group).

Then I saw the mention of Herringham being the inspiration for Mrs Moore in E.M. Forster's A Passage to India! I certainly recommend adding an emforster and apassagetoindia tag.

Forster was a huge influence on my life in many ways. While Passage is perhaps his best known work, I don't know it as well as some of his other writings. I did write a paper on it in college many years ago, and there may have been a mention of Herringham in critical analysis/footnotes/etc; but if there was, I've long since forgotten. I collected Forster-related books for a while but I do not have any of Mary Lago's books -- I might have seen them in the library, though.

It was also interesting to see that she was friends with Millicent Fawcett (suffragist and co-founder of Newnham College in Cambridge), whose own sister Elizabeth Garrett Anderson was (via Wikipedia) "the first woman to qualify in Britain as a physician and surgeon. She was the co-founder of the first hospital staffed by women, the first dean of a British medical school, the first woman in Britain to be elected to a school board and, as Mayor of Aldeburgh, the first female mayor and magistrate in Britain."

Anyway, this post certainly led me down a rabbit hole. When I get a chance, you can bet I'll be going through my Forster books to see if I can find a mention of Herringham.
posted by rangefinder 1.4 at 11:59 PM on February 13, 2019

(Sorry, I meant to explain about "Mary Lago's books" -- among Lago's work, she wrote/edited a few books about Forster, including a notable collection of letters. I had known about the letters but, since I don't have the books myself, had forgotten the name of the editor until this post/your additional comment above.)
posted by rangefinder 1.4 at 12:13 AM on February 14, 2019

Apologies for the triple comment - since the thread's gonna close soon, I'll add this for posterity: I've found old Burlington Magazines on e.g. here's her writing about the caves, from Volume XVII (1910). There are more volumes, courtesy of the University of Toronto Robarts Library.
posted by rangefinder 1.4 at 1:11 AM on February 14, 2019

« Older Shaking the Rafters   |   Year-Round Indoor Salad Gardening Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments