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October 29, 2020

For many decades now, the Kress Foundation has sponsored a suite of two-year pre-doctoral research fellowships at key art history research institutes in Europe. One of our institutional partners and fellowship hosts is the Leiden University Centre for the Arts in Society (LUCAS). Catherine Powell, a PhD candidate at the University of Texas, Austin, is currently in residence at LUCAS as a Kress History of Art Institutional Fellow for two years (2019-2021). Her 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.

A colored sketch of a woman sitting in a garden, pointing to an open book.

Philip Tideman, Sketch for title page for a collection album belonging to Agnes Block, ca. 1700, drawing.


Ms. Powell recently published a blogpost entitled, “Where have all the women gone? Challenging structural patriarchy and rethinking feminist art history,” which is based on her dissertation research in Leiden. This stimulating blogpost suggests that if only we ask new and different questions, we can find otherwise elusive evidence of female participation in the arts and culture of the early modern period.

To read Ms. Powell’s latest blogpost, dated October 15, 2020, please see

Ms. Powell has further participated quite recently in a webinar at LUCAS, along with Margaret Mansfield, PhD candidate at the University of California, Santa Barbara and Kress Institutional Fellow at LUCAS for the years 2020-2022. Both their talks are now available at