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Ady, Julia

    Full Name: Ady, Julia

    Other Names:

    • Julia Mary Cartwright Ady

    Gender: female

    Date Born: 1851

    Date Died: 1924

    Place Born: Edgcote, Northamptonshire, England, UK

    Place Died: Oxford, Oxfordshire, England, England, UK

    Home Country/ies: United Kingdom

    Subject Area(s): Italian (culture or style), Italian Renaissance-Baroque styles, and Renaissance

    Career(s): art critics


    Art critic and historian of Italian renaissance. Cartwright was the daughter of Richard Aubrey Cartwright and Mary Fremantle (Cartwright) (d. 1885). She was privately schooled. Her earliest exposure to art may have come from her uncle William Cornwallis Cartwright (d.1915), an art collector, who allowed her early access to his library and gallery at Aynhoe, Northamptonshire. She toured France, Austria, and Italy with her family in 1868. After an 1871 article in Aunt Judy’s Magazine, she contributed regularly to the Monthly Packet, as well as “The Lives of the Saints” series. Cartwright began reading art histories of renaissance art, including those of Anna Jameson, John Ruskin, Charles L. Eastlake, Walter Pater, and particularly the New History of Painting in Italy by Joseph Archer Crowe, and G. B. Cavalcaselle. In 1873 she attempted to become an art writer by submitting a researched article on Giotto to Macmillan’s Magazine. Although it was denied publication, it later appeared in the New Quarterly in 1877. She expanded her interest to include contemporary art, especially Turner, Landseer, and Whistler. Cartwright continued to write art criticism for journals such as Portfolio and the Magazine of Art. She visited Italy at least three times in the 1870s. Cartwright married (William) Henry Ady (1817-1915), an Episcopal minister, in 1880. The following year, Cartwright, now known as Mrs. Ady, published her first art history, Mantegna and Francia. Now, too, she began an interest in contemporary art, including the Pre-Raphaelites, D. G. Rossetti, Edward Burne-Jones as well Watts, Millet, Bastien-Lepage, and Puvis de Chavannes. In 1894 Ady met Bernard Berenson, and in 1897 toured Siena with Mary Costelloe (later Mary Berenson) under the guidance of Herbert P. Horne. The effects of these eminent art historians on Ady in her later monographs on artists. In 1903 her book on Botticelli appeared and a reissued form in 1904. The following year she published a book on Raphael. Ady also published biographies of women during this time, one on Dorothy Sidney, Edmund Waller’s mistress in 1893 and in 1894, on Charles II’s sister Henriette, duchess of Orléans. Her biography on the renaissance art patron Isabella d’Este (1903), though thoroughly researched, avoided many of the intrigues of the woman in order to paint a more positive picture of her. In 1908 Ady published her biography of Baldassare Castiglione, still a standard work on the courtier, although omitting some of the court evils of the man and time. Though positive about some forms of modern art, Ady was shocked at the famous 1912 Post-impressionism exhibition which Roger Fry mounted at the Grafton Galleries. A biography of the art-loving Danish expatriate Christina of Denmark was published in 1913. In 1914 Ady published a collection of her articles as The Italian Gardens of the Renaissance and other Studies. Through her daughter, the renaissance historian Cecilia Ady (1881-1958), she met the Oxford-trained art historian Joan Evans. After her husband’s death in 1915, Ady moved to Oxford where she died in 1924. Ady’s art criticism reflects that of Pater and Giovanni Morelli, whom she read in the 1880s, and her friendship with the writer and art author Violet Paget. Although not an outward feminist (she only embraced women’s suffrage issues late in her life), Ady raised the importance of woman as figures in the history of art by demonstrating Isabella d’Este’s contribution toward renaissance patronage. Though she was never employed as an art historian, she was, initially through the medium of art criticism, able to raise the prominence of women as art writers. Her views of art do not depart from those of Victorian England: appreciating Raphael and disparaging Post-Impressionism.

    Selected Bibliography

    Christ and his Mother in Italian Art. London: Bliss, Sands, 1917; The Painters of Florence from the Thirteenth to the Sixteenth Century. New York, E. P. Dutton & Co., 1916; Raphael in Rome. London: Seeley1895; Christina of Denmark, Duchess of Milan and Lorraine, 1522-1590. London: J. Murray, 1913; Isabella d’Este, Marchioness of Mantua, 1474-1539: a Study of the Renaissance. 2 vols. New York : E.P. Dutton, 1903; Baldassare Castiglione, the Perfect Courtier: his Life and Letters, 1478-1529. New York: E. P. Dutton and Co., 1908; Italian Gardens of the Renaissance, and Other Studies. London: Smith, Elder & Co., 1914; Sandro Botticelli. London: Duckworth & Co., 1903.


    Emanuel, Angela , ed. A Bright Remembrance: the Diaries of Julia Cartwright, 1851-1924. London: Weidenfeld and Nicholson, 1989; Mitchell, Rosemary. “Cartwright , Julia Mary (1851-1924).” Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, 2004.


    Contributors: Emily Crockett and Lee Sorensen


    Emily Crockett and Lee Sorensen. "Ady, Julia." Dictionary of Art Historians (website).

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