Julia Cartwright Ady

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Julia Mary Cartwright Ady (née Cartwright) (7 November 1851 – 28 April 1924) was an English art critic and a historian of the Italian Renaissance.

Early life[edit]

Cartwright was born at Edgcote, Northamptonshire, into a respected Northamptonshire family, the daughter of Richard Aubrey Cartwright and Hon Mary Fremantle, daughter of Thomas Fremantle, 1st Baron Cottesloe.[1] She had a liberal Anglican upbringing and was home-schooled in art, literature, languages, dance and music.[2]

She developed a fascination with art early on, particularly of the Italian Renaissance. Her uncle William Cornwallis Cartwright was an art collector and supporter of the Italian Risorgimento, and Cartwright regularly visited his house at Anyhoe Park where she had her first exposure to works of the Old Masters.[3] Her uncle's collection included paintings by Murillo, Canaletto, Spagnoletto and Albano.[4] Cartwright read widely from a young age, covering historical Italian texts, contemporary fiction and current British art publications. She greatly admired the poetry of Robert Browning and his collection Men and Women (1855) with its poems ‘Fra Filippo Lippi’ and ‘Andrea del Sarto’, inspired by Italian Renaissance painters, was particularly influential. She was also an avid reader of John Ruskin, George Eliot and early Italian writing and poetry such as by Savonarola and Torquato Tasso.[5]

In 1868, she toured France, Austria, and Italy with her family.[6]


In 1871 Cartwright contributed an article in Aunt Judy's Magazine, and also wrote for the Monthly Packet, and for a series of "The Lives of the Saints". She read works on Renaissance art, including those of Anna Jameson, John Ruskin, Charles Lock Eastlake, Walter Pater, and particularly the New History of Painting in Italy by Joseph Archer Crowe and Giovanni Battista Cavalcaselle. In 1873 she submitted an article on Giotto to Macmillan's Magazine, which was turned down at the time, but appeared in the New Quarterly in 1877. Cartwright continued to write art criticism for journals such as The Portfolio and the Magazine of Art. She visited Italy at least three times in the 1870s and on one of these occasions met Rev William Henry Ady whom she persuaded to take up the post of rector at Edgcote and married in 1880.[7] In 1881, Cartwright, now known as Mrs Henry Ady, published her first art history, Mantegna and Francia. In 1894 she met Bernard Berenson and in 1897 toured Siena with Berenson's future wife Mary Costelloe under the guidance of Herbert Horne. In 1903 her book on Botticelli was first published, and in 1905 she published a book on Raphael.[6]

Biographies of women[edit]

Ady was able to raise the prominence of women as art writers through art criticism and her biographies of women. Her subjects included Dorothy Sidney mistress of Edmund Waller, Henrietta, Duchess of Orléans, sister of Charles II, Isabella d'Este the renaissance art patron, and her younger sister, Beatrice d'Este, Baldassare Castiglione and Christina of Denmark, the art-loving Danish expatriate. In 1914 Ady published a collection of her articles as The Italian Gardens of the Renaissance and other Studies.[6]

Art appreciation[edit]

Ady's initial interest in renaissance art expanded to include contemporary artists, in particular Turner, Landseer, and Whistler and moved on the Pre-Raphaelites Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Edward Burne-Jones and Watts, Millet, Bastien-Lepage, and Puvis de Chavannes. She was positive about some forms of modern art, but was shocked at the 1912 Post-impressionism exhibition mounted by Roger Fry at the Grafton Galleries. Her views of art were those of Victorian England which appreciated Raphael and disparaged Post-Impressionism. Her art criticism reflects that of Pater and Giovanni Morelli whom she read in the 1880s, and her friendship with the writer and art author Vernon Lee.[6]

Personal life[edit]

After her husband's death in 1915, Ady moved to Oxford and died there in 1924. Her daughter, Cecilia Ady (1881–1958) was also a Renaissance historian.[8]


  • Mantegna and Francia. London: Sampson Low & Co., 1881.
  • The Pilgrims' Way from Winchester to Canterbury ... With forty-six illustrations by A. Quinton. London: J. S. Virtue & Co., 1893.
  • Sacharissa; some account of Dorothy Sidney, Countess of Sunderland, her family and friends, 1617-1684. London: Seeley & Co., 1893.
  • Jules Bastien-Lepage. London: Seeley and co., limited; New York: Macmillan and co., 1894.
  • Madame. A life of Henrietta, daughter of Charles I. and Duchess of Orleans. London: Seeley & Co., 1894.
  • Sir Edward Burne-Jones, Bart. His life & work. London: J. S. Virtue & Co., 1894.
  • The Early Work of Raphael. London: Seeley and co., limited; New York: Macmillan and co., 1895.
  • Raphael in Rome. London: Seeley and co., limited; New York: Macmillan and co., 1895.
  • G. F. Watts, Royal Academician. His life & work. London: J. S. Virtue & Co., 1896.
  • Jean François Millet. His life and letters. London: S. Sonnenschein & Co., 1896.
  • Christ & His Mother in Italian Art. Edited by J. Cartwright ... With an introduction by Robert Eyton. L.P., London: Bliss, Sands & Co., 1897.
  • Beatrice d'Este, Duchess of Milan, 1475-1497. A study of the Renaissance. London: J. M. Dent & Co., 1899.
  • The Painters of Florence from the thirteenth to the sixteenth century. London: John Murray, 1901.
  • Isabella d'Este, Marchioness of Mantua, 1474-1539; a study of the Renaissance. London: John Murray, 1903.
  • The Life and Art of Sandro Botticelli. London: Duckworth & Co., 1904.
  • Raphael. London: Duckworth & Co.; New York: E. P. Dutton & co., 1905.
  • Baldassare Castiglione the perfect courtier, his life and letters, 1478-1529. London: John Murray, 1908.
  • Hampton Court. London: Wells Gardner & Co., 1910.
  • Christina of Denmark, Duchess of Milan and Lorraine, 1522-1590. London: John Murray, 1913.
  • Italian Gardens of the Renaissance, and Other Studies. London: Smith, Elder & Co., 1914.


  1. ^ Descendants of Margaret Dymoke
  2. ^ Emanuel, Angela (1989). A Bright Remembrance: The Diaries of Julia Cartwright, 1851-1924. London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson. p. 3.
  3. ^ Mitchell, Rosemary. "Cartwright, Julia Mary (1851–1924)". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.
  4. ^ Emanuel, 36-37.
  5. ^ Emanuel, 5; 12.
  6. ^ a b c d Dictionary of Art Historians Julia Cartwright Ady
  7. ^ John Easton Law, Lene Østermark-Johansen Victorian and Edwardian responses to the Italian Renaissance Ashgate Publishing, Ltd., 2005 ISBN 0-7546-5057-X, 9780754650577
  8. ^ Benjamin G. Kohl, ‘Ady, Cecilia Mary (1881–1958)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, Oct 2009 accessed 13 Nov 2016

External links[edit]