Catherine Powell

PhD Candidate

Art History

Northern Renaissance/Baroque

Research Interests

  • Early modern social networks
  • Women and gender issues and feminist art theory
  • Socio-economic issues in production and patronage
  • Early modern garden history and landscape architecture
  • Early modern intersectionalities: arts, science, environment, economics, and socio-political culture
  • Dutch Golden Age


BA (Honors), Economics, Bishop’s University

JD, University of Toronto

MA, History of Design and Curatorial Studies, Parsons School of Design (The New School)


Catherine Powell is presently in residence at the University of Leiden, in the Netherlands, where she is the Kress Institutional Fellow at the Leiden University Center for the Arts in Society (2019–2021).

Her current research focuses on the roles of women in the production and patronage of early modern art in Northern Europe, particularly in the Netherlands and Germany. Her dissertation concerns the reliance on social networks in the patronage of Agnes Block, a Dutch 17th century artist who designed and cultivated one of the most famous gardens of the Dutch Golden Age. This research project brings together issues of gender (specifically as they relate to institutions), early modern science, as well as the significance of environmental transformations underlying Dutch garden culture and, thus, the impetus for Block’s artistic patronage.

Catherine’s M.A. Thesis, entitled “Charles Le Brun and the Replicas of The Triumphs of Alexander: Extending a Reputation Through Weaving and Print,” examined the agency of Le Brun as a court artist and the power of print privilege in 17th century France. Catherine completed her thesis after extensive archival research in Paris, made possible by a Smithsonian Fellowship.

While studying at the Parsons School of Design, Catherine held a curatorial fellowship at the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum and was an intern at the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Library. These opportunities provided her with experience assisting with the planning of exhibitions, writing for catalogues and collection management reports, and the handling of collection objects and rare books. She was selected by her peers to deliver the graduating address and named Outstanding Graduating Student for the class of 2016.

While a graduate student at the University of Texas at Austin, Catherine has been a teaching assistant for several art history courses and the lead teaching assistant for a massive online course on introduction to art history. She has benefited from several research grants, including the Rolf und Ursula Schneider-Stiftung Doktorandenprogramme 2019 (Herzog August Bibliothek, Wolfenbüttel, Germany), a Renaissance Society of American Short-Term Research Fellowship, and a travel award from the Kimbell Art Foundation Graduate Art History Student Research and Travel Fund.

Prior to deciding to follow her passion for the arts, Catherine practiced as a civil litigator in Canada, focusing on commercial and environmental cases. Her background provides her with a unique multi-disciplinary perspective with which to approach her research.

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