Helen Rosenau (1900–1984) was part of the influential migration of European Jewish intellectuals who fled to Britain and the United States during the 1930s, bringing with them exciting innovations in art history’s methods. Only Rosenau, however, centred gender in her analysis. The result—her book Woman in Art: From Type to Personality—is a feminist art-historical project, as relevant today as when it was first published in 1944, in which Rosenau drew on contemporary discussions of gender in anthropology, philosophy, sociology, law, theology, history, and literature.
In this new volume, ahead of the eightieth anniversary of its original publication, Rosenau’s erudite and accessible text is prefaced with a personal memoir by Adrian Rifkin, who was once her student, new research into the refugee experience by Rachel Dickson, and a portrait of Rosenau as feminist intellectual by Griselda Pollock. In conversation with this new setting of the original text, richly illustrated with colour images, Pollock offers eye-opening new readings of key aspects of Rosenau’s methods, concepts, arguments, and interpretations of famous artworks, establishing the place of Rosenau’s “little book of 1944” in the historiographies of both feminist thought and cutting-edge art history across two centuries.
A digital facsimile of Woman in Art (1944) can be found on the Internet Archive (archive.org)