Philobiblon: How to make a woman (and a story) disappear...

Monday, March 13, 2006

How to make a woman (and a story) disappear...

Interesting piece in The Times today about Margaret, second Duchess of Portland, an Enlightenment giant:

The duchess, with her inquiring mind, combining a passion for science with a love of the arts and, operating within a network of the most creative, forward-thinking figures of the age, was "the embodiment of the Enlightenment", according to Derek Adlam, the curator of the remaining Portland collection. Her original collection "if it had survived would have had the potential to be one of the great museum collections that would have grown into a national institution, and she would have been famous. It would be the Portland Museum, which would have been equal to the British Museum."
Before her death, however, she issued instructions that because of the expense of her elder son’s political career, her other son’s debts and her children’s general lack of enthusiasm for maintaining the collection, it should be sold off. At the London auction there were more than 4,000 lots. Lisa Gee, the director of the gallery, wonders what might have happened if the duchess had been a man. "She had no ego about this thing that she had done," she says. "You could argue that a more masculine personality might have insisted the collection remain intact as a monument to himself. But she wanted to do right by her kids."

You won't, however, have found the story on The Times's webpage. There doesn't appear to be any arts pointer at all on the front webpage. Under "women", however, there's: "Fashion - from trends to catwalk collections; Sarah Jessica Parker - sex and the pity; Hollywood idols - the real deals". That's just in case anyone thought this was THE Times.


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