J. L. BELL is a Massachusetts writer who specializes in (among other things) the start of the American Revolution in and around Boston. He is particularly interested in the experiences of children in 1765-75. He has published scholarly papers and popular articles for both children and adults. He was consultant for an episode of History Detectives, and contributed to a display at Minute Man National Historic Park.

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Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Anishanslin on “A Woman in Silk” in Boston, 23 Mar.

On Thursday, 23 March, Zara Anishanslin will speak at the Massachusetts Historical Society on the topic of her new book Portrait of a Woman in Silk: Hidden Histories of the British Atlantic World. This event is part of the society’s series of lectures on “The Politics of Taste.”

As its title suggests, the starting point of this book is a portrait of a woman in a silk dress. Anishanslin explores that object through four people involved in creating it. In reverse order, they are:
  • painter Robert Feke of Newport.
  • sitter and patron Anne Shippen Willing of Philadelphia.
  • master silk weaver Simon Julins of Spitalfields, London.
  • pioneering fabric designer Anna Maria Garthwaite, also of London.
The painting thus connects four people on either side of the Atlantic. By exploring the worlds they moved in, the book lays out the commercial warp and aesthetic woof that helped to define genteel taste in the British Empire.

Zara Anishanslin is Assistant Professor of History and Art History at the University of Delaware. She specializes in the study of material culture or, as her website says, she has “a thing for things.” Liz Covart discussed that approach to historical research with Anishanslin on this episode of the Ben Franklin’s World podcast’s “Doing History” series.

Admission to this lecture is $10, or free to M.H.S. Members and Fellows. The event starts at 5:30 P.M. with a reception. Prof. Anishanslin will speak at 6:00 and sign copies of her book afterward.

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