Support Systems: the Hidden Labour behind Art Making (1880-1920)

Start - End 
2023 - 2026 (ongoing)
Department of Art, music and theatre sciences
Research Focus 
Research Period 
Research Region 



This project reveals, for the first time, relationships which enabled and sustained artists’ work and careers in late-nineteenth-century and early-twentieth-century Belgium. Structured around three categories of people, it takes a systematic approach at investigating the diverse, crucial but usually hidden and unacknowledged role played by family members, domestic servants and collaborators, whether through domestic work, creative collaboration or their participation in shaping the legacy of the artist. By shedding light on these overlooked figures, this project aims to undermine the myth of the sole (male) creative genius, and the implicit gender, class and race hierarchies which sustain it. Focusing on the collective rather than the individual, this research creates a more inclusive picture of the making of art, and thereby aims for a paradigm shift within the discipline of art history.