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Portrait of Edith Beatty


Hybrid Talk: Edith Beatty as a Collector


Dr Jill Unkel, Curator of Western Collection, Chester Beatty

“[Edith] was a grand person and a wonderful judge of all works of art—manuscripts, paintings and furniture.”  —Chester Beatty

Originally from New York, Edith moved to London in 1913 when she married widower and mining engineer, Chester Beatty. She was a racehorse owner, as well as a collector of jewellery, furniture, manuscripts, paintings and objets d’art. Edith was especially noted for her collection of paintings by Impressionist, Post-Impressionist, Cubist and other Modernist artists. Edith and Chester had separate collections and different tastes, but they understood each other’s respective interests. She often acquired historic books in order to present them as gifts, memorialising them with inscriptions. Many of these mark significant occasions with her husband, such as birthdays, anniversaries or major holidays. To celebrate International Women’s Day, please join the Curator of Western Collections at the Chester Beatty as she explores the life, interests and collections of Edith Beatty—racehorse owner, collector and gift-giver extraordinaire—and her contribution to the Chester Beatty Collections.

FREE Hybrid Talk: This lecture will be delivered in the lecture room. No booking required for onsite talk, please book to join us online HERE.

About the Speaker
Dr Jill Unkel is an art historian whose research interests include manuscript illumination, ecclesiastical architecture, the history of the book, and object histories. She has both an MPhil and PhD from the Department of Art and Architectural History at Trinity College Dublin. Dr Unkel joined the Chester Beatty in 2005 and was appointed Curator of Western Collections in 2013. Her exhibitions and catalogues include The Art Books of Henri Matisse (2011), Costume Parisiens: Fashion Plates 1912-1914 (2013–2014), Wicked Wit: Darly’s Comic Prints (2015–2016), Miniature Masterpiece: The Coëtivy Hours (2018) and First Fragments: Biblical Papyrus from Roman Egypt (2021–2022).