“I declare
That later on
Even in an age unlike our own
Someone will remember who we are”


The images of women within the Acton Collection of Villa La Pietra are numerous and richly varied. From a predominance of religious iconography in fine and decorative arts, to mythological and allegorical depictions, portraiture and scenes of domesticity, every room in the collection of some 6000 objects provides documentation through which to explore the symbolic function of gender roles and relationships across centuries. While we can enjoy the Acton Collection on the level of an aesthetic experience, a display of collecting taste, or an archive of historic art, as active viewers we become aware of a crucial tension between the gender constructions these images represented when created and their meaning and resonance in contemporary social and political contexts today.


Using the Acton Collection as both a productive and discursive site, this exhibition examines the depiction of women with a transhistorical perspective, adding into the Villa’s collection contemporary responses by artists and poets in an effort to investigate, challenge and expand upon received art historical categories of iconography, patronage, material and function. Regarding Women in the Acton Collection is inaugurated as part of The Season, curated and produced by Ellyn Toscano. The Season was founded in 2005 by Toscano, the Villa's director, from her vision to set contemporary work in conversation with the Villa's expansive grounds and eclectic art collection. Since 2005, The Season has produced collaboration and exploration between international artists of varying mediums.


Inauguration of an art exhibition by five international artists Zoe Buckman, Alessandra Capodacqua, Patricia Cronin, Bärbel Reinhard, and Deb Willis, and writings by five poets Antonella Anedda Angioy, Elisa Biagini, Christine Malvasi, Eileen Myles and Alicia Ostriker. Poetry reading by Elisa Biagini, followed by a performance by Karen E. Finley, New York-based performance artist.

June 26 / 18:30 - 21:30


Picturing Women Events' Series

Academic Year 2016-17 and 2017-18

Poetry Talk: Born to Describe

Feb 01 2017 / 18:00 / SALONE

A Dialogue with Writer and Poet Eileen Myles on Women and Poetry. Poets have been writing about art for centuries. I’d like to... Learn More >

Iconography of Violence – Reading the Rotunda Frescos

Feb 07 2017 / 18:00 /

A conversation with Prof. Silvia Giorgi, NYU Florence and Prof. Marilena Caciorgna, Università di Siena. (Reserved to NYU Students and Faculty only). This... Learn More >

Refragmenting Collage Workshop

Feb 14 2017 / 12:00 pm / VILLA SASSETTI

Collage is the noble conquest of the irrational, the coupling of two realities, irreconcilable in appearance, upon a plane which... Learn More >

Women on the Fringes: Heretics and Witches

Feb 14 2017 / 18:00 / SALONE

A Dialogue with Prof. Matteo Duni, NYU Florence. “Let a woman learn in silence with full submission. I permit no woman... Learn More >

I’M HERE and Women and Photography in the Acton Photo Archive between Representation and Re-Interpretation

Feb 20 2017 / 17:30 /

I'M HERE - with Christine Malvasi, NYU Florence. Language Lecturer, Expository Writing Program, NYU, and Visiting Faculty Fellow, Global Research Institute... Learn More >

Rebel Girls: U.S. Working Women and the Struggle for Social Justice

Feb 21 2017 / 18:00 / VILLA LA PIETRA

A Dialogue with Mary-Ann Trasciatti, Hofstra University Working women in the U.S. have played a key role in global struggles for... Learn More >

Depicting Women in Film: Where are We Now?

Feb 27 2017 / 18:00 / VILLA LA PIETRA

A Dialogue and Screening with Gail Segal, New York University, Tisch School of the Arts. In 1979, Kramer vs. Kramer invoked... Learn More >

Women and Violence: Politics and Gender in the Twilight of Modernity

Mar 08 2017 / 10:30 / VILLA SASSETTI

Physical and symbolic violence against women is not an aspect of the pre-modern world destined to disappear with “progress”. On the... Learn More >

Reframing Beauty: Intimate Visions

Mar 14 2017 / 18:00 / VILLA SASSETTI

Contemporary Artists Respond: Artist Talks - with Deborah Willis, New York University, Tisch School of the Arts. This lecture will focus... Learn More >

Social Justice and Aesthetic Responsibilities

Apr 11 2017 / 18:00 / VILLA LA PIETRA

Contemporary Artists Respond: A Dialogue with Patricia Cronin, Artist in Residence, NYU Florence. New York based conceptual artist Patricia Cronin will... Learn More >

Vital Voices: Women and International Leadership Development

Apr 19 2017 / 18:00 / VILLA SASSETTI

Vital Voices Global Partnership is one of the most important American international, non-profit, non-governmental organizations that works with women leaders... Learn More >

Empowering Women in STEM

Apr 24 2017 / 18:00 / VILLA SASSETTI

The dialogue “Empowering Women in STEM” is a collaborative, interdisciplinary, and locally engaged initiative, designed to promote diversity and female... Learn More >

Resetting the Table: a Symposium on Feminist Art and Herstory

Oct 09 2017 / 10:00 am / SACI

Introduced by Mary Beckinsale, Art Historian and SACI President Emeritus. Full program available on the SACI website. The symposium is co-sponsored... Learn More >

View all upcoming events at Villa La Pietra >

Art from the Acton Collection

The images of women within the Acton Collection of Villa La Pietra are numerous and richly varied. This gallery contains a selection of images that served as a starting point for the exploration of this theme.