Karen Winslow, a Ph.D. student at Trinity College Dublin, is presenting a paper on Belle da Costa Greene at the conference on “Women and the Book” on 26 October 2018. She provides insight into her research here.

Belle Green Blog  [September 5 2018]

When Belle da Costa Greene (1883-1950) died, her bequest to the Morgan Library included a small collection of Persian, Turkish, Mughal and Arabic miniatures. Belle was the first director of the Morgan Library, but what motivated her to collect Islamic book art? Was it her romantic relationship with Bernard Berenson (1865-1959) who also collected Islamic manuscripts (Fig. 1)? Did she associate the art with the exotic persona she created for herself by claiming Portuguese ancestry? Was she enticed by “Europe’s collective day-dream of the Orient?”[1] My research suggests all these factors may have played a role in shaping the collections of this remarkable woman.

[1] Kiernan, V. G. (1969) The Lords of Humankind: Black Man, Yellow Man, and White Man in the Age of Empire. Boston: Little, Brown.