Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art: The Dinner Party: Heritage Floor: Elizabeth Montagu

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Thomas Cheesman. Elizabeth Montagu, 1809. After Joshua Reynolds, 1775. National Portrait Gallery, London

Elizabeth Montagu
b. 1718 or 1720, Yorkshire, England; d. 1800, London

In the early 1750s, Elizabeth Robinson Montagu co-founded the Bluestockings society, which sponsored gatherings of socialites with intellectual aspirations and promoted the literary production and education of women. Furthermore, by the 1770s, her house had become the preeminent salon in England, serving as a meeting place for poet Samuel Johnson, politician and philosopher Edmund Burke, artist Sir Joshua Reynolds, and playwright David Garrick. She published her own work, An Essay on the Writings and Genius of Shakespear Compared with the Greek and French Dramatic Poets, with some Remarks upon the Misrepresentations of Mons. de Voltaire in 1769, where she proclaims Shakespeare to be the greatest writer in the world.

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