"No wonder all art criticism is wrong, whenwe stand against a rail and look down into our pockets or up under the brim of our hats! Of course a great picture ... is made to be seen at several goes." - Vernon Lee
An openly lesbian, feminist writer, Vernon Lee—a pseudonym of Violet Paget—is the most important female aesthetician to come out of nineteenth century England.
Though she was widely known for her supernatural fictions, Lee hasn’t gained the recognition she so clearly deserves for her contributions in the fields of aesthetics, philosophy of empathy, and art criticism. An early follower of Walter Pater, her work is characterized by extreme attention to her own responses to artworks, and a level of psychological sensitivity rarely seen in any aesthetic writing. Today, she is largely overlooked in curriculums, her aesthetic works long out of print. Her philosophical inquiries in The Psychology of an Art Writer leave no stone unturned, combining fine-grained ekphrases with high fancy and dense abstraction. The diaries, in turn, establish Lee as one of the most sensitive writers about art in any language.