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Patricia Mainardi, Founder of AHNCA

Without Patricia Mainardi, there would be no AHNCA. Literally. Pat came up with the name Association of Historians of Nineteenth-Century Art at the group’s first organizational meeting, and the name’s punchy acronym is as familiar to scholars of nineteenth-century art as CDG, BnF, or PRB. Of course, Pat has contributed a great deal more to our group since its founding in 1993 than its moniker. She served as AHNCA’s first president, lending both her organizational savvy and her scholarly prominence to the fledgling society. Her guidance in these early years helped establish the society’s presence at CAA, where AHNCA-sponsored panels devoted to nineteenth-century art history still provide a forum for new research. A session dedicated to the research of scholars who had recently finished their PhDs and were just embarking on their careers also became part of AHNCA’s annual activities at CAA, thanks again to Pat’s determination.

Pat’s commitment to fostering the work of young scholars defines her involvement with AHNCA. Ten years ago, she began planning AHNCA’s first graduate symposium. Then, there were few venues where advanced graduate students could test their ideas before an audience made up not only of their peers but also of distinguished scholars. None of the existing conferences for graduate student research focused on the nineteenth century. With the inauguration of the AHNCA Graduate Symposium, Pat brought the rising generation of art historians not just into AHNCA’s fold but into academic society, exposing them to the sort of collegial discourse that is needed in order to sustain scholarly inquiry.

Pat’s vision for the practice of nineteenth-century art history—and for the discipline itself—presupposes the necessity of intellectual exchange and community. None of us can advance knowledge in isolation. Now, nearly twenty years after the founding of AHNCA, we mostly take for granted the opportunities we have to meet and share our research each year at CAA or at the Graduate Symposium, which Pat still hosts each year in New York City. And if we cannot attend these events, we stay in touch with each other and exchange ideas via the Newsletter or Nineteenth-Century Art Worldwide. It is only right that Pat’s legacy as the founding president and ongoing program coordinator of AHNCA should be celebrated by a collaborative project such as this special issue of Nineteenth-Century Art Worldwide.

Elizabeth C. Mansfield
President, AHNCA