Nineteenth-Century Art Worldwide
The painter May Alcott Nieriker, sister of famed novelist Louisa May Alcott, is a striking example of a middle-class woman who was able to achieve professional success in the United States and in Europe even though she lacked sustained instruction, income, and connections. This article first considers Alcott Nieriker's circuitous artistic path before focusing on how she sought, through her published travel writings, to empower other women of modest means to follow in her footsteps. Particular attention is given to her groundbreaking guidebook, Studying Art Abroad & How to Do It Cheaply (1879), which not only provides practical advice for unaccompanied women travelers, but also embeds critical commentary on the discriminatory conditions faced by women artists as it advocates for change.
Dabbs, Julia K. “Empowering American Women Artists: the Travel Writings of May Alcott Nieriker.” Nineteenth-Century Art Worldwide, vol. 15, no. 3 (Autumn 2016).