Catherine Powell is an external PhD candidate in art history and the 2019-2021 Samuel H. Kress Foundation Institutional Fellow at the Leiden University Centre for the Arts in Society (LUCAS). Her current research project examines the use and creation of social networks by women artists and patrons during the last quarter of the seventeenth century. A particular focus of her work is on the historical intersections between art and gender, environment, and natural sciences. Other research interests include cultural and intellectual transfers through trade and exploration and socio-economic issues in art production and patronage in early modern Northern Europe.
Fields of interest
- Art history of the Dutch Golden Age
- Early modern intersections: art, gender, culture, environment, science, economics
- Early modern women and gender
- Early modern social networks
BA (Honors), Economics, Bishop’s University (Quebec, Canada)
JD, University of Toronto (Ontario, Canada)
MA, History of Design and Curatorial Studies, Parsons School of Design (The New School) (New York, US)
Catherine Powell is a PhD candidate in art history at the University of Texas at Austin. She is presently in residence at the University of Leiden, in the Netherlands, where she is the Samuel H. Kress Institutional Fellow at the Leiden University Centre for the Arts in Society (2019–2021).
Her current research focuses on the roles of women in the production and patronage of early modern art in Northern Europe, particularly in the Netherlands and Germany. Her dissertation concerns the reliance on social networks in the patronage of Agnes Block, a Dutch 17th century artist who designed and cultivated one of the most famous gardens of the Dutch Golden Age. This research project brings together issues of gender (specifically as they relate to institutions), early modern science, as well as the significance of environmental transformations underlying Dutch garden culture and, thus, the impetus for Block’s artistic patronage.
Catherine’s M.A. Thesis, entitled “Charles Le Brun and the Replicas of The Triumphs of Alexander: Extending a Reputation Through Weaving and Print,” examined the agency of Le Brun as a court artist and the power of print privilege in 17th century France, particularly as measured against the production of Flemish tapestries based on the protected designs. Catherine completed her thesis after extensive archival research in Paris, made possible by a Smithsonian Fellowship.
Grants and awards
As a graduate student at the University of Texas at Austin, Catherine Powell has been a teaching assistant for several art history courses and the lead teaching assistant for a massive online course on introduction to art history. She has benefited from several research grants, including the Rolf und Ursula Schneider-Stiftung Doktorandenprogramme 2019 (Herzog August Bibliothek, Wolfenbüttel, Germany), a Renaissance Society of American Short-Term Research Fellowship, and a travel award from the Kimbell Art Foundation Graduate Art History Student Research and Travel Fund.
While studying at the Parsons School of Design, Catherine held a curatorial fellowship at the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum and was an intern at the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Library. These opportunities provided her with experience assisting with the planning of exhibitions, writing for catalogues and collection management reports, and the handling of collection objects and rare books. She was selected by her peers to deliver the graduating address and named Outstanding Graduating Student for the class of 2016.