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Please join guests for the inaugural Deen Day Sanders Porcelain and Decorative Arts Museum Lecture Series featuring Asen Kirin.

“Women, Power, and Intellectual Pursuits: Catherine the Great’s Collection of Porcelain”

Catherine the Great (reign 1762-1796) had major accomplishments in the realm of government, an environment entirely dominated by men at the time. Women of power and great achievement often utilized the arts to affirm and perpetuate their positions in society and to control public perception. In addition, they continuously engaged in the realm of domesticity, which tradition had sanctioned as appropriate for them. Catherine surpassed the supposed limitations of womanhood while simultaneously excelling in her feminine role as a homemaker, the mother of all her people.

The empress commissioned some of the most intricately decorated porcelain dishes, which challenged their creators both technologically and artistically. For Catherine, apart from displaying great style, this collection of porcelain was in essence an intellectual endeavor fueled by erudition and infused with meanings stemming from the empress’s knowledge of history, religion, literature, and the arts. Ultimately, Catherine’s efforts left a positive impact on the society of eighteenth-century Russia by promoting science, an understanding of history, a knowledge of antiquity and a familiarity with the then-current and most advanced liberal political ideas.

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