The multivalence of May Alcott Nieriker's Studying Art Abroad and How to Do It Cheaply

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Abstract

In the late nineteenth century an increasing number of American artists sought inspiration and instruction in the leading art centres of Europe, such as Paris, London, and Rome. Yet for the female artist-traveller of modest means, study abroad was a daunting proposition: how would she negotiate the barriers of cost, safety, and institutional access? Based on her experiences as an artist in Europe, May Alcott Nieriker (1840-79) addresses these issues in her fascinating guidebook, Studying Art Abroad and How to Do It Cheaply (1879), the first such advice manual written by an American artist. This essay will reveal that not only did Studying Art Abroad serve as an empowering guidebook, but simultaneously it allowed Alcott Nieriker to offer criticism regarding discriminatory practices faced by women artists, commentary that might otherwise have gone unpublished if presented outside the liberating genre of travel literature.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)303-314
Number of pages12
JournalStudies in Travel Writing
Volume16
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 1 2012

Keywords

  • May Alcott Nieriker
  • art criticism
  • nineteenth-century American artists
  • study abroad
  • women's travel writing

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