Susan Jaques

Susan Jaques

Susan Jaques Biography & Books

Speaker Biography:

Susan Jaques is an art writer with a love for museums and a consuming interest in history and art collecting. Her new biography, THE EMPRESS OF ART: Catherine the Great and the Transformation of Russia (Pegasus Books, April 2016) explores Catherine II’s bold, unprecedented use of art and architecture to legitimize her reign and transform Russia into a European superpower.

Susan Jaques has written articles, profiles, and art reviews for publications such as The Los Angeles Times, Christian Science Monitor, Chicago Tribune and Toronto Globe and Mail and writes regularly about art for the Huffington Post’s Arts & Culture section. As a gallery docent at the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles, she shares highlights of the collection with hundreds of visitors each month, placing European paintings, sculptures and decorative art in historic and artistic context. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in history from Stanford University and an MBA from UCLA.




Catherine the Great collected art with the same passionate intensity she showed for lovers, foreign conquest, and power. Exhaustively researched and written with great style, The Empress of Art tells the fascinating story of Catherine's love affair with the arts and how she used them to advance the glory of Russia and her reign. A marvelous book.

-Douglas Smith, author of Former People: The Final Days of the Russian Aristocracy

The author provides a unique perspective on the woman who "transformed Russia from a northern backwater to global superpower." An intriguing biography of a ruler whose ruthlessness encompassed art.

-Kirkus Reviews

A page turner… this insightful and rich book by Susan Jaques chronicles Catherine the Great's extraordinarily ambitious patronage of the arts.

-Antoine Cheneviere, author of Russian Furniture: The Golden Age 1780-1

Jaques's detailed description of Catherine's passion for art stands on its own as a vivid portrayal of a fascinating ruler…Readers of biography, art history and collecting, Russian history, and 18th-century world history will enjoy this book. Lovers of opulence will drool over Catherine’s lifestyle.

-Library Journal

Jaques portrays Catherine II of Russia, founder of the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, as a shrewd investor in this considerate biography of the art-obsessed monarch…The Hermitage marked its 250th anniversary in 2014, and as Jaques shows, it stands as a fitting testimonial to its visionary founder.

-Publishers Weekly

What a wonderful book A LOVE FOR THE BEAUTIFUL is for art lovers of every stripe—a guide to top-tier collections around the United States that are hiding in plain sight. From cowboy art to pre-Columbian, Boucher to Braque, it can all be found at the 50 lesser-known museums that star in A LOVE FOR THE BEAUTIFUL, Susan Jaques’ lively guide will prompt hours of enjoyable browsing—as well as dreams of a cross-country art tour. I’ll start mine at the Sydney and Walda Besthoff Sculpture Garden in New Orleans

-Annalyn Swan, Pulitzer prize–winning coauthor of de Kooning: An American Master

Susan Jaques has produced an informative, accessible guide to the fascinating mosaic of America’s art museums. Chock full of history, beautifully descriptive, and always engaging, this work will introduce art lovers (and art lovers to be) to many undiscovered riches.

-Dewey Blanton, director of Strategic Communications, American Association of Museums

Jaques not only sets the scene for each institution, but also delves into the human element behind the collections, quite often the collectors and/or curators whose vision made dreams of a gallery into reality.

-Bob Duggan for

In this lavishly-illustrated (more than 250 full-color photographs) guide, Jaques, a journalist specializing in art and travel and a gallery docent at The J. Paul Getty Museum, introduces readers to art collections in fifty lesser-known American museums...Of interest mostly to art lovers and travelers, this accessible, artfully-designed, engaging, informative, nicely-written, thoughtful, and well-presented publication by an experienced writer, traveler, and museum aficionado may be read from cover-to-cover and/or consulted by chapter and/or entry...It is recommended for individual readers as well as for library reference collections.

-C. A. Lajos, Art History, Architecture, Decorative Arts, Museum, and Visual Studies Book Review Blog

Quotes from Speaker:

After months of research and travel, I made a startling discovery. Some of the country's best art resides in museums largely unknown outside their regions. How these galleries ended up where they did is a fascinating tale of American art collecting. I discovered that America's under-the-radar art museums are as diverse as their holdings. They aren't necessarily small, though this book has its share of intimate galleries. They aren't always off the beaten path; some are hiding in plain sight. Another group is located on college campuses and even a secondary school. What each of the museums offers is a unique art-viewing experience that's genuine, intimate, and uncrowded. from From A LOVE FOR THE BEAUTIFUL


  • THE EMPRESS OF ART: Catherine the Great and the Transformation of Russia (Pegasus Books)
  • A LOVE FOR THE BEAUTIFUL: Discovering America’s Hidden Art Museums (Globe-Pequot Press)

Speaking Topics:

  • The World’s Greatest Art Collectors
  • America’s Hidden Art Museums
  • Museum Architecture
  • Portraiture
  • Asian Art
  • Dutch Golden Age Painting
  • White Gold: 18th Century European Porcelain
  • French Decorative Arts
  • Catherine the Great
  • Palaces of St. Petersburg
  • Imperial Jewels & Fabergé Eggs

Speaking History: (partial)

  • National Museum of Women in the Arts
  • The Ellison Center of Russian Studies, University of Washington, Seattle
  • China Society of Southern California, “Chinese Art Collecting"
  • Pacific Asia Museum Authors on Asia Series, “A History of Asian Art Collecting in America”
  • San Marino League, “U.S. Museum Architecture”
  • National Museum of Women in the Arts
  • Monterey Museum of Art Friends of the Museum, “About Face: Colonial to Contemporary Portraiture”