This insightful and beautifully illustrated book offers the first feminist analysis of the phenomenon of women art collectors in America. Dianne Sachko Macleod brings a surprising paradox to light, showing that collecting, which provided wealthy women with a private sense of solace, also liberated them to venture into the public sphere and make a lasting contribution to the emerging American culture. Beginning in the antebellum period, continuing through the Gilded Age, and reaching well into the twentieth century, Macleod shows how elite women enlisted the objets d'art and avant-garde paintings in their collections in causes ranging from the founding of modern museums to the campaign for women's suffrage.
Dianne Sachko Macleod is Professor Emerita of Art History at the University of California, Davis. She is the author of Art and the Victorian Middle Class: Money and the Making of Cultural Identity.
“A valuable addition to our belated understanding of the crucial role that women played outside the studio and inside the museum.”—Robert Moeller Artnet Magazine
“Macleod’s impressive grasp of the complexities of collecting brings to life the idea of the female collector and the limitless horizons that collecting embodied as an expression of personal identity and female agency. . . . Essential.”—Choice: Current Reviews For Academic Libraries
“Macleod deftly demonstrates that collecting art served these women as a catalyst for fostering self-awareness, independence, and engagement with the public sphere.”—Journal Of American History
“The work is a welcome addition to the literature on collecting. It should prompt spirited discussion.”—Bruce A. Austin New York-Pennsylvania Collector
“Macleod brilliantly explicates an astonishing amount of information to historicize the collecting practices and societal contributions of over three dozen wealthy American women. . . . Macleod deftly corrects the unfortunate stereotype of female collectors as superficial consumers of frivolous objects and illustrates how these wealthy women refused to succumb to the narrow roles drawn for them by the patriarchal order. . . . An impressive piece of scholarship on the gendered and heterogeneous nature of collecting. . . . Her richly textured narrative will be of interest to scholars concerned with material culture and consumption, art history, American studies, and gender studies.”—American Historical Review
“Enchanted Lives, Enchanted Objects will captivate scholars in many fields.”—Laura R. Prieto CAA Reviews
Jacques Barzun Prize, American Philosophical Society
PROSE AWARD, Association of American Publishers, Inc.