Marcus Gheeraerts II, Portrait of a Woman in Red (detail), 1620 © Tate
Study Day: Portraying Pregnancy

Study Day: Portraying Pregnancy

40 Brunswick Square London WC1N 1AZ
22 Apr 2020
  • Special Events
Hear experts discuss the depiction of pregnancy through the ages.

11:00-16:00 | Tickets £25, £20 concessions & Foundling Friends, includes lunch

Delve further into the imagery and history of pregnancy in this study day. Hear from a range of speakers with different perspectives on the subject, including Karen Hearn, the exhibition’s expert curator, historical expert on conception, Isabel Davis, art historian, Kate Retford, and expert on the history of pregnancy dress, Amy Wilson.

Professor Karen Hearn FSA was the curator of sixteenth and seventeenth century British art at Tate Britain from 1992 to 2012. Now an Honorary Professor at University College London, she specialises in art produced in Britain between 1500 and 1710, and also in British-Netherlandish cultural links during that period. Her new book, Portraying Pregnancy: From Holbein to Social Media (Paul Holberton Publishing) accompanies the present exhibition.

Kate Retford is Professor of History of Art at Birkbeck, University of London. She has published widely on eighteenth-century British art, particularly on the portraiture of the period and the country house art collection. Her work includes The Art of Domestic Life: Family Portraiture in Eighteenth-Century England (Yale University Press, 2006), Placing Faces: The Portrait and the English Country House in the Long Eighteenth Century, co-edited with Gill Perry et al. (Manchester University Press, 2013) and The Georgian London Town House: Building, Collecting and Display, co-edited with Susanna Avery-Quash(Bloomsbury Academic, 2019).

Isabel Davis is a Reader in Medieval Literature and Culture at Birkbeck, University of London. She has published extensively on the literature and culture of the late Middle Ages, and recently her work has turned to the cross-disciplinary and cross-period history of what she calls ‘un-pregnancy’: an ambiguous phase before a pregnancy diagnosis can be achieved. In 2017 she held a well-received exhibition, Conceiving Histories, with visual artist Anna Burel, at the Peltz Gallery in London. She has recent academic articles out on the problem of dating and diagnosing pregnancy in the nineteenth century, and William Harvey’s ideas about false pregnancy.

Amy Wilson is a specialist in the history of eighteenth-century maternity wear for the fashion elite; her current focus looks at how mothers-to-be navigated compromises between high fashion, personal comfort and an ever-changing body shape. Amy explores the craftsmanship and design of maternity clothing and the world in which they were worn. She is also interested in contemporary attitudes to the female body and how they are informed by the past. Amy is a social historian, an early career researcher and studied at Newcastle University.