Painting by Numbers: Creating Data-Driven Histories of Art
Visiting Speaker
Past Talk
Diana Seave Greenwald
Assistant Curator of the Collection at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum
Friday
Apr 8, 2022
Watch video
Time TBA
3:30 pm
177 Huntington Ave
11th floor
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This talk presents how one can blend historical and social scientific methods to provide fresh insights into nineteenth-century art. It describes the extent to which art historians have focused on a limited—and potentially biased—sample of artwork from that time. With new quantitative evidence for more than five hundred thousand works of art, one can address long-standing art historical questions about the effects of industrialization, gender, and empire on the art world.

In particular, this presentation focuses on a case study that combines theory from labor economics with data about works by nineteenth-century women artists. It examines how women artists' domestic responsibilities forced them to be active in certain genres and media—particularly still-life paintings and watercolors—that are faster to finish and can be completed on a more flexible schedule. This insight about how artistic form and content change in response to demands on women's time highlights structural barriers that still hamper nineteenth-century women artists' posthumous reputations and continue to limit women artists' attainment today.  

About the speaker
About the speaker
Diana Seave Greenwald is an art historian and economic historian. Her work uses both statistical and qualitative analyses to explore the relationship between art and broader social and economic change during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, particularly in the United States and France. Her first book, Painting by Numbers: Data-Driven Histories of Nineteenth Century Art, was published by Princeton University Press in 2021. Diana is currently the Assistant Curator of the Collection at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston. Prior to joining the Gardner, she was an Andrew W. Mellon Postdoctoral Curatorial Fellow at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., working in the departments of American and British Paintings and Modern Prints and Drawings. She received a D.Phil. in History from the University of Oxford. Before doctoral study, Diana earned an M.Phil. in Economic and Social History from Oxford and received a Bachelor’s degree in Art History from Columbia University.
Diana Seave Greenwald is an art historian and economic historian. Her work uses both statistical and qualitative analyses to explore the relationship between art and broader social and economic change during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, particularly in the United States and France. Her first book, Painting by Numbers: Data-Driven Histories of Nineteenth Century Art, was published by Princeton University Press in 2021. Diana is currently the Assistant Curator of the Collection at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston. Prior to joining the Gardner, she was an Andrew W. Mellon Postdoctoral Curatorial Fellow at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., working in the departments of American and British Paintings and Modern Prints and Drawings. She received a D.Phil. in History from the University of Oxford. Before doctoral study, Diana earned an M.Phil. in Economic and Social History from Oxford and received a Bachelor’s degree in Art History from Columbia University.

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