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Sotheby's Institute of Art presents a panel discussion about the role of the artist's muse in the modern world.

Join us on Thursday, March 31 from 6:30 – 8PM EST. In this panel discussion, leading art historians and lecturers from Sotheby’s Institute of Art will discuss the role, representation and history of the muse, across time and cultures, from ancient Greece to today.

What is the origin of the muse? We all know likes of Elizabeth Siddall but have other muses been overlooked? Who has been a significant muse? Should the outdated label be cancelled, or do we need to reconsider term for today? Which muses have changed art history? What is the future of the muse?

The event will be chaired by Ruth Millington, author of Muse (2022, Vintage Publishing) and member of the faculty at Sotheby’s Institute of Art.

This event is in partnership with Sotheby’s Institute of Art.

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Chair: Ruth Millington

Ruth Millington is an art historian, writer and critic. After studying art history during an MA at the University of Oxford, Ruth Millington spent five years working for museums and galleries across the UK, including the Ashmolean Museum of Art and Archaeology, the Estorick Collection of Modern Italian Art and renowned modern art dealership Connaught Brown.

Ruth lectures on art history, and has spoken at Women’s Aid, the University of Oxford and Sotheby's Institute of Art, where she is Head of the Careers Service.

She has been featured as an art expert on radio and TV, including BBC Breakfast, Woman's Hour, ITV News, BBC WM Radio, Radio 4's Today program and in a Sky Arts documentary on Cold War Steve, entitled 'Cold War Steve Meets the Outside World'.

Ruth has written for national newspapers, including the Telegraph, the i, The Sunday Times, Daily Mail and Express. In 2019, she wrote a catalogue on the artist Eric Tucker to accompany a major show at Warrington Museum and Art Gallery, achieving national press coverage.

Her first book Muse uncovers the hidden figures behind art history's masterpieces. Featuring performing models and devoted parents, creative allies and muses who have been turned into messages, this book deconstructs reductive stereotypes, and reframes the muse as a momentous and empowered agent of art history.

Ruth also manages an award-winning art blog at She uses the platform to write, in particular, about women artists, muses and gender in art history.

Panelist Biographies:

Dr David Bellingham is an art historian, author and Program Director for the Master’s Degree in Art Business at Sotheby’s Institute of Art, London where he leads a core unit on Art Business, Finance & Management, as well the elective The Market for Antiquities & Old Masters. He holds a special honors degree in Latin and Classical Archaeology (University of Birmingham), and a doctorate from the University of Manchester for his thesis on the cultural and socio-economic aspects of sympotic scenes in ancient Roman and Pompeian wall-painting. David has published numerous books and articles on a variety of subjects, including; art fairs, art business ethics, Greek & Celtic mythology, the art market for classical sculpture and frescoes, the paintings of Sandro Botticelli, and authenticity issues in the paintings of Frans Hals.

Dr Amy Mechowski, originally from Chicago, Amy worked as a curator at the Victoria and Albert Museum from 2007 to 2013, in three different collections departments (Asia; Word & Image; and Sculpture, Metalwork, Ceramics & Glass), undertaking a wide range of curatorial activities and working on both major exhibitions and capital projects. She left the Museum to devise and lead the semester course ‘Art Museums, Galleries & Curating’ at Sotheby’s Institute of Art before returning to the V&A in 2016 as Head of the Learning Academy. Amy has been a Research Fellow at the Yale Center for British Art and has published and delivered public lectures and conference papers on research topics such as performativity and spectatorship in museums and galleries. In her PhD, which focused on the poets Natalie Barney and Renée Vivien, she explored the potentialities and pluralities of the ‘lesbian muse’. She is the author of chapters in books on subjects such as the female gaze and the female nude in 19th-century sculpture (Sculpture, Sexuality and History: Encounters in Literature, Culture and the Arts from the 18th century to the present, Palgrave, 2019) as well as Live Art and public engagement in museums (Performativity in the Gallery: Staging Interactive Encounters, Lang, 2014). Amy currently leads the ‘Curating, Museums, and Galleries’ semester course at the Institute as well as the 19th century course for the ‘Stories of Art’ series at The National Gallery.

Dan Vo is a media producer and museum professional specializing in queer history and inclusive museum practice. In 2021 he led the V&A Academy’s A Queer History of Objects course. He has developed volunteer-led LGBTQ+ tours for several museums in the UK, most notably the V&A Museum, Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge and Amgueddfa Genedlaethol Caerdydd National Museum Cardiff. Dan is a patron of LGBT+ History Month, trustee of Culture24 and sits on steering committees for Historic England, Imperial War Museum, Pitt Rivers Museum and Queer Britain. He was co-presenter of BBC Arts programs Museum from Home and Museum Passion.