ESNA Talks

Nina Reid |
Reflecting (on) Tradition, The Mirror in the Work of Alfred Stevens

ESNA (The European Society for Nineteenth-Century Art), together with the RKD, has set up a series of online presentations. Over the coming months, ten art historians will present new and current research into the art and culture of the long nineteenth century. 

Reflections by and on Alfred Stevens

In this third online ESNA Talk, art history Master’s student Nina Reid will introduce her research on Alfred Stevens (1823-1906), taking a special look at the way in which he presented himself as a major Belgian artist in Paris in the nineteenth century. In Stevens’s time it was hard for foreign artists to establish a reputation for themselves in the thriving artistic city of Paris. Stevens specialised in genre painting, representing typical bourgeois Parisiennes in richly decorated interiors. One element that features remarkably often in Stevens’s compositions is the mirror; his painted women look at themselves in the mirror, or peer at ‘the viewer’ through a mirror. In her ESNA Talk Nina Reid asks if the role of the mirror in Stevens’s work can also be linked to his Belgian heritage? We associate mirrors with the work of great artists such as Quinten Massys and Jan van Eyck – did Stevens knowingly follow in their footsteps?

Nina Reid

Nina Reid is a Master’s student in art history at the University of Amsterdam, where she completed her bachelor’s dissertation on Alfred Stevens in 2020. Next year she will start the Research Master Art History course at Utrecht University. Right now she is a research intern at the Dordrechts Museum. Previously she worked as an intern at the Amsterdam Museum, for which she published a collections booklet entitled Getekend tijdsbeeld: Nederlandse tekenaars omstreeks 1800 (2019). She was also an intern and later research assistant at the Van Gogh Museum. She has contributed a chapter on the artist Catharina Backer to the book Gouden vrouwen: Van kunstenaars tot verzamelaars (2020).

1 Alfred Stevens, In the Studio, 1886, oil on canvas, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
2 Alfred Stevens, The Bouquet, 1857, oil on canvas, private collection
3 Alfred Stevens, La psyché, c. 1870, oil on panel, Princeton University Art Museum, Princeton

The European Society for Nineteenth-Century Art

ESNA was founded in 2012 by a group of academic researchers, postdoctoral students and museum curators. It is affiliated with the Research School Art History (OSK) and the RKD – Netherlands Institute for Art History. Although it started in the Low Countries, ESNA aims to be active in as broad a field as possible, given that nineteenth-century artists and art were part of an international network – just as art-historical research on the nineteenth century is an international matter.