"Their campaign of wanton attacks": Suffragette Iconoclasm in British Museums and Galleries during 1914

The Museum Review

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Title "Their campaign of wanton attacks": Suffragette Iconoclasm in British Museums and Galleries during 1914
Creator Scott, PhD, Helen E.
Subject Museum; museum history; museum studies; museum research
Museum, iconoclasm, suffragette; 1914; galleries; UK museum
Description The British female suffrage movement reached its militant height in the spring of 1914. At this time, despite decades of prior campaigning, women were still denied the right to a democratic vote, and supporters of an equal franchise found themselves resorting to increasingly extreme measures. Suffragettes were engaged in a range of violent activities devised to draw public and political attention to their cause. Window- smashing and arson were common tactics. On March 10, 1914, the situation intensified with the emergence of a new form of militancy: iconoclastic attacks in museums and galleries. The suffragette Mary Richardson instigated the campaign with an audacious hatchet assault on The Toilet of Venus (The Rokeby Venus) by Diego Velázquez. Her act scandalized the nation, and stimulated a wave of attacks on artworks that would continue for five months. This article investigates suffragette iconoclasm during 1914, an under-explored chapter in the history of British museums and galleries. The article begins by examining the background to the phenomenon, before discussing the actions and intentions of the perpetrators. It analyzes the communicative successes and failures of the tactic as an activist weapon, determining that the misinterpretation and misrepresentation of the women’s motives prevented the campaign from substantively changing the fortunes of the female suffrage movement prior to the First World War.
Publisher Rogers Publishing Corporation NFP
Date 2016-12-28
Type info:eu-repo/semantics/article
Peer-reviewed Article
Format application/pdf
Identifier http://journals.sfu.ca/rogerspub/index.php/tmr/article/view/2
Source The Museum Review; Vol 1, No 1 (2016)
Language eng
Relation http://journals.sfu.ca/rogerspub/index.php/tmr/article/view/2/2
Rights Copyright (c) 2016 Helen E. Scott, PhD

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