Analysing the English Collections at the Pitt Rivers Museum

Estella Louisa Michaela Canziani (1887-1964)

Chris Wingfield
Researcher 'The Other Within' project

1941.8.017 Wood pipe donated by Canziani

1941.8.017 Wood pipe donated by Canziani

1961.1.089  Vinaigrette donated by Canziani [open]

1961.1.089 Vinaigrette donated by Canziani [open]

Estella Canziani is renowned as a folklorist, artist and writer, particularly in relation to her work in Italy. Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery have a web page about Canziani as an artist with images of her tempera paintings, and the Folklore Society have recently published a page about her life and her work with the 'Pearlies' of London.

Canziani was a major collector of European material in the first half of the twentieth century, and a frequent donor to the Pitt Rivers Museum. She contributed over 700 English objects to the museum on eleven different occasions between 1933 and the final bequest following her death in 1964 (though she began sending Alpine objects to the museum in 1914 and contributed to the museum's worldwide collections on over twenty occasions). In 1963 she appointed Beatrice Blackwood as an executor and trustee, noting that 'apart from any of the desirable qualities, & including these qualities - that it would be best, also to have a woman.'

This comment suggests that gender had some importance for Canziani, and her donations are part of those that contribute to an increase in contributions by women to the museum's collections in the mid-twentieth century (see page noting this). Canziani seems to have formed part of a network of female traveller-folklorists, often connected through the Folklore Society (FLS). Blackwood and Canziani served together on the council of the FLS and Canziani's 1963 letter asking Blackwood to act as her trustee suggests she does not need to reply as they will meet at 'Council' on the 11th.

Next Page: Canziani and the Folklore Society