Nora heysen

Why should art have ever been considered a male preserve?

‘I’m a lady,’ insists the improbable damozel in David Walliams’s Little Britain sketch. I’m a lady, I kept thinking, reading these two books. More: I’m a lady art historian. Oughtn’t I to like books by other lady art historians about lady artists and ladies in art. Why don’t I? Why so out of sync with the sisterhood? Start with the positive. Jennifer Higgie’s The Mirror and the Palette follows an interesting, original line: ‘If she had access to a mirror, a palette, an easel and paint, a woman could endlessly reflect on her face and, by extension, her place in the world.’ Higgie, editor-at-large at frieze magazine and the host