Performing ancient sculpture: Vernon Lee and psychological aesthetics

MONDAY 18 MARCH 18.00–19.30 

Francesco Ventrella (BSR; Sussex)

A renowned art scholar and critic, Vernon Lee (born Violet Paget, 1856–1935) occupies an interesting place in the history of art history not so much for her discoveries about ancient statuary, but for the way in which she used it. After 1895, in collaboration with her lover Clementina Anstruther-Thomson, Lee embarked on a series of psychological experiments to record their physical responses in front of works of art. In this lecture, Francesco Ventrella will look at some of the experiments they conducted in Rome in order to discuss the importance of their ‘exercises’ with ancient sculptures in the history of the transnational feminist Freikörperkultur, but also for the development of queer aesthetics then and now.