In one hectic week last October I was in Rome on the Monday on holiday and London on the Thursday for a conference. Within this week I had visited several museums, the Vatican AND the Coliseum. Phew. A lot of culture, even for me, in a very short space of time. One museum that I really enjoyed visiting was the Museum Boncompagni Ludovisi which is a satellite of the National Gallery of Art, Rome.
Gerda and Eina Wegener with Gerda’s painting Sur la route d’Anacapri, 1924, Royal Library, Denmark.
Gerda Wegener. Never heard of her? Nope, never have I until I listened to this podcast by fashion history podcasters Dressed on the illustrious career of illustrator Gerda Wegener (pronounced with a ‘V’) in the early twentieth-century. Gerda drew illustrations using the ‘pochor’ technique of painting for Le Journal Des Dames et Des Modes as well as working as a successful painter and commercial artist for various companies in France and Denmark. However, her name may be familiar to you as she is played by Alicia Vikander in the 2015 film The Danish Girl which centres on the story of Einar Wegener / Lili Elbe who was the one of first persons to undergo gender re-assignments in the early 1930s in Dresden, Germany.
As a ‘Women Curator’ or just simply a ‘Curator’ (I abhor when people put ‘Women’ or ‘Female’ in front of Historian or Curator; why not just the one word? My gender does not determine my ability to curate exhibitions or dessiminate history!) I found this article that was Tweeted by Amgueddfa Library (Library of the National Museum of Wales) interesting as it details information about the first woman, Joan Beauchamp Procter, a Zoologist, to be appointed as a Curator of the Reptile Department at the National History Museum in London.
When I come across a photograph of someone spectacularly styled from the past I automatically want to both emulate their dress and find out more about the historical person if possible. Especially if they are wearing a combination of vintage ‘casual’ wear or attire suitable for wearing in the country. Hence, why I got very excited about the photograph of Marjorie Pratt, Countess of Brecknock above.