Friday, January 27, 2017

Three: 20th Century European Artists

We will be looking at artists from each of the major countries of Europe: Germany, France, Russia, Switzerland, Holland, Spain, Britain.


1876-1907: Paula Modersohn-Becker
  • Paula was an early German Expressionist who created a number of groundbreaking images in the first decade of the century.
  • Paula Becker married Otto Modersohn, one of the founders of an artists' colony that she joined in Northern Germany.
  • She was torn between being an artist and being a mother; she felt it was impossible to do both.
  • She finally had a baby at the age of 31, but she died a few weeks later.
  • She was known for painting female nudes and nude self-portraits.

1877-1962: Gabriele Münter
  • Gabriele was a key part of the artistic breakthroughs of modernist artists in Germany before World War I.
  • She was part of the Blue Rider group of artists.  The Blue Rider artists wanted art to express personal experience. It was part of the German Expressionist movement.
  • She studied art a progressive art school founded by Wassily Kandinsky, the most advanced Russian artist of the time, credited with inventing abstract painting.
  • Gabriele fell in love with Kandinsky although he was a married man, and spent many years thinking he would marry her when his divorce came through.
  • Gabriele preserved a large cache of Kandinsky's paintings from Nazi soldiers and later donated them to a museum in Munich called Lenbachhaus, along with works of her own and other artists in their circle.
  • She eventually found true love with art historian Johannes Eichner.
  • She was an heiress who was not dependent on her career.

1865-1938: Suzanne Valadon
  • Suzanne was one of the most innovative painters in France in the early 20th century.
  • Suzanne was trained by some of the finest painters of the previous century, and built her style on Post-Impressionism.
  • Suzanne was raised as a street kid in Montmartre, the artsy district of Paris.
  • She started her career as an artist's model for all the most important artists in the area.
  • She learned to paint by studying the work of her clients.
  • The artists she posed for tended to become infatuated with her for awhile.
  • She had a child out of wedlock when she was 18. He became a famous painter named Maurice Utrillo.
  • One of her favorite subjects was candid nudes.
  • She also excelled at portraiture.

1883-1956: Marie Laurencin
  • Marie  was a famous painter all through the first half of the 20th Century.
  • Marie studied at a major art academy in Paris, along with Georges Braque.
  • Georges Braque introduced Marie to his friends, including Picasso.
  • She had a famous affair with poet and art critic, Guillaume Apollinaire.
  • Her early fame rested on two group portraits featuring herself, Apollinaire, and Picasso.
  • In the 1920s she worked in a graceful, decorative style that made her a popular portraitist among prominent social figures.
  • She designed costumes and sets for various productions for Diaghilev's Ballets Russes.
  • She was extremely prolific; a museum devoted to her in Japan has 600 works.
  • Marie was the only child of an unwed mother but she had a proper middle-class education.

1885-1979: Sonia Delaunay
  • Sonia was a pioneer of abstract art in the years before World War I.
  • She was a co-founder of a movement called Orphism.
  • Originating around 1912-1913, Orphism was a development of Cubism that made use of color relationships to get the effect of movement and music.
  • Sonia was married to artist Robert Delaunay, co-founder of Orphism.
  • She also achieved fame as a designer of fashions and costumes.
  • Sonia was raised by a wealthy Jewish family in the Ukraine. 
  • She moved to Paris at the age of 20 in 1905.


1881-1962: Natalia Goncharova

  • Natalia was a leading artist of the Russian avant-garde in the early 20th century.

  • She experimented with several advanced styles, including Neo-Primitivism, Rayism, and Cubo-futurism.
  • She also achieved fame as a designer of theatrical costumes.
  • Her partner in life was another advanced Russian artist, Mikhail Larionov.
  • Natalia and Mikhail immigrated to Paris in 1914 and became French citizens in 1938.
  • Natalia came from a noble and well-educated family. She studied art at the finest Russian art school.
  • Natalia holds the world record for the price paid for a work of art by a woman.

1882-1949: Alexandra Exter
  • Alexandra Exter was a Russian painter and designer of international stature in the early 20th century.
  • Alexandra painted some of the earliest works of Abstractionism.
  • She played a key role in the development of a Russian movement known as Constructivism, and was closely associated with Kazimir Malevich.
  • For the first 20 years of her career, Alexandra traveled between Paris, Milan, and Rome, in addition to Kiev and Moscow, to show her work.
  • In 1924 she immigrated to Paris where she became a famous theater designer.
  • Her family was wealthy and she was well-educated. She graduated from the Kiev Art Institute. 

1889-1924: Lyubov Popova
  • Lyubov Popova was a leading member of the Russian avant-garde in the early 20th century.
  • She excelled as a painter, graphic artist, theatrical set designer, textile designer, teacher, and art theorist.
  • Prior to World War I her style evolved from Cubism, through Cubo-Futurism, and Suprematism.
  • After 1917, she identified completely with the Bolshevik Revolution.
  • She renounced painting and turned to design of fashion, fabrics and uniforms because these were more useful to society.
  • She died at the age of 35 of scarlet fever.
  • She came from a wealthy and cultured family. She studied art in Russia, as well as an art academy in Paris.


1889-1943: Sophie Taeuber-Arp
  • Sophie is one of the few Swiss artists to achieve international recognition.
  • Sophie was a multi-talented artist who specialized in textile design.
  • Her early textiles were in the Constructivist style.
  • During World War I, she was a central figure in the Dada movement in Zurich.
  • In 1926 Sophie moved to France, where she worked as an interior designer.
  • She married to a German-French sculptor named Hans, or Jean, Arp, who also worked in a Dada style.
  • Sophie died accidentally at age 53. 


1891-1955: Charley Toorop
  • Charley was the only Dutch woman artist of the 20th century to gain an international reputation.
  • She focused all her energy on painting—not sculpture, not design.
  • Her style was heightened realism, confrontational in composition and cinematic in terms of lighting.
  • Charley was the daughter of Jan Toorop, the foremost Dutch painter of his time. She learned painting skills from him.
  • Charley is especially well known for her self-portraits, but her depictions of other character types are even more powerful.


1911-2013: Ángeles Santos Torroella
  • Ángeles was a Spanish painter who created a pair of masterpieces in her teens.
  • Her career was cut short by a nervous breakdown when she was 20.
  • Ángeles resumed painting in her 40s; her work was old-fashioned and failed to win respect in the art world.

  • Bridget is a British Op Art painter whose work played an important part in the culture of the 1960s.
  • She devoted her whole career to variations of Op Art, long after it fell out of popularity.
  • Her Op Art style has passed through several phases of experimentation, holding the interest of her fans.


We considered the art of the early 20th century in 7 European countries.

The Germans were into Expressionism: Paula Mohderson-Becker, Gabriele Munter.

The French practiced post-Impressionism, Expressionism, and Abstraction: Suzanne Valadon, Marie Laurencin, Sonia Delaunay.

The Russians were into Abstraction and socially useful arts: Natalia  Goncharova, Alexandra Exter, Lyubov Popopova.

The Swiss artist was into Abstraction and Dada: Sophie Taeuber-Arp.

The Dutch artist was a stylized Realist: Charley Toorop.

The Spanish artist experimented with Surrealism and New Objectivity: Ángeles Santos.

The British artist is the most widely celebrated Op artist: Bridget Riley.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Two: Women of the 19th Century

Art Trends in the 1800s

In the 1800s Europe entered a totally different phase of history, and art changed radically.

Blame it on the revolutionary spirit expressed in France and America. Factor in rapid industrialization in the 1800s and consequent rise of cities. Old power structures broke down and suddenly everyone was questioning the status quo.

In France art started with a turn toward Realism. After centuries of treating religious stories, mythological stories, standard genre scenes, and artificially composed still lifes, some artists began to take an interest in the real world around them. Realism then led some artists to depict peasant life. This was a sentimental gesture; now that everyone was moving to the city, they felt nostalgic for the old ways, or for their dream of the old days.

Jules Breton
Calling in the Gleaners, 1859
Along with that went a particular interest in paintings of animals. In France, Britain, the Netherlands and America, realistic depiction of animals in realistic settings had a market of its own.

Here's an example by the foremost British animal-painter.

Edwin Henry Landseer
Favourites, the Property of H.R.H. Prince George of Cambridge
A great many artists were able to make a living painting animals, and foremost among them was a woman:

1822-1899: Rosa Bonheur

• Rosa Bonheur was one of the most famous and talented animal painters of all time.

• Although she was French, her paintings more popular in England and America than in France, and many of her most important works are in museums in those countries.

• Although Rosa's animal paintings were prized for their anatomical accuracy, their real strength is in their sympathetic portrayal. After she became a success, she kept a large and varied menagerie on her estate in Fontainebleau.

• Rosa is notorious her mannish mode of dress, her assertive behavior, and her life-long relationship with the same woman.

Animal-painting is a specialized genre. It has enduring appeal for a certain audience, but its impact on the the development of art soon waned.

Development of Impressionism

The great revolution in art was Impressionism. Artists who were born in the 1830s and 1840s, when they reached maturity in the 1850s and 1860s, they rebelled against the status quo in art. Like little kids, they just kept asking Why? Why do subjects have to be formal? Why does modeling have to be ideal? Why do brushstrokes have to be blended?

And from their questions, artists started trying other ways of doing things. Instead of sitting in their studios, they ventured outside to look at the real world. That got them interested in the play of light throughout the day. And they began to think they could convey lighting effects better if they could break up their brushstrokes and let them show; the picture would be more vibrant. Then they noticed that some types of brushstrokes felt more natural than others; brushstrokes could express feelings.

And so forth. Once painters started experimenting with all the elements involved in making a painting, a whole new energy came into art. New styles followed one right after another. Instead of trying to make products that conformed to tradition, painters were taking control of the medium and using it for their own purposes.

The men painters most closely associated with Impressionism were Monet, Renoir, and Pissarro. Two women were equally involved and equally respected at the time: Mary Cassatt and Berthe Morisot. Two other women were working in the Impressionist mode at that time who are less known because their careers were brief: Marie Bracquemond and Eva Gonzalés.

Let's look at these artists in chronological order.

1840-1916: Marie Bracquemond

• Marie Bracquemond was a renowned Impressionist painter whose reputation was limited by her comparatively small output.

• Her favored subjects were individuals and small groups in informal settings. 

• Her special talent was romantic light effects such as the dappled light of a garden or the glow of lamplight at the dinner table. 

• Marie also won respect for her engravings and ceramic designs.

• Marie's husband Felix is notorious in art history for discouraging her painting career.

1841-1895: Berthe Morisot

• Berthe Morisot was the greatest woman painter in France in the 1800s.

• She was one of the pioneers of Impressionism, and exhibited in 7 of the 8 Impressionist exhibits.

• Her principal subject was domestic life and portraits of family and friends. Her most enduring paintings are dreamy portraits of women and girls in interior settings.

• Berthe is known for her association with the Manet family: she was a colleague of the famous painter Édouard Manet, and married to his brother, Eugene, also a painter. These two artists respected her talent and encouraged her career.

1844-1926: Mary Cassatt, American

• Mary Cassatt was the greatest woman painter of the 19th century.

• She is one of the foremost innovators of Impressionism, but she soon developed a more personal and dynamic style, and continued to experiment with different approaches.

• Almost all her work features one or two women, often in interaction with one or two children.

• Mary's compositions are intimate without being sentimental, and beautiful without being trite.

• Although she was American, she spent most of her career in Paris, and was on equal terms with the other pioneers of Impressionism, both male and female.

• Though her home was in Paris, most of her sales were in the United States. Through her influence with American collectors, Impressionism became the dominant movement in the U.S.

• Eva Gonzalès was a minor Impressionist who did not show her work in the Impressionist Exhibits.

• She was a student and follower of Edouard Manet, as well as posing for a few of his paintings.

• She died at the age of 34, from complications following childbirth, which limited both her output and her critical reputation.

• She was very talented and versatile, but it seems she died before coming to maturity as an artist.

• In recent years she has received increased critical appreciation. 

American Women of the 19th Century

It's time to turn our attention to what American women painters were doing in the 1800s.

The very first paintings by women to enter art history in America were by women in the large family of Charles Willson Peale, America's first art educator, who lived through the Revolutionary period. He named all his daughters for women artists; some of them became artists; daughters of some of his children also became artists. These pioneers didn't really push their careers, so very little of their work can be seen in museums.

The first American woman to become famous and self-supporting as an artist was:

1822-1902: Lilly Martin Spencer

• Lilly Martin Spencer was the first successful woman artist in America.

• In the 1850s, Lilly became one of the most popular and widely reproduced genre painters in the U.S.

• She achieved particular success with humorous domestic subjects.

• Her particular strength was in highly realistic and polished rendering of objects, and most of her scenes include excellent still life elements.

• As a role model, she successfully combined the roles of artist and mother, supporting a large family by her painting while her husband took over household management.

Three American women painters were working during the Impressionist period and were influenced to different degrees by the stylistic changes in Europe. However, the United States was less sophisticated than Europe, less friendly to experimentation, and less aware of women's potential. Therefore women artists tended to be more conservative and their work sometimes has less impact. Let's look at them in order.

• Maria Oakey Dewing specialized in the depiction of flowers.

• She was widely recognized in the 1890s and beyond, when there was a fad for fine gardens among the wealthy

• Most of her canvases show flowers still in the garden, from a gardener's point of view.

• Though limited in scope, her paintings are fresh and modern in technique.

• As a woman, she exemplifies the artists who curtailed their own ambitions in order to support the careers of their artist husbands. She is known for regretting that choice.

• Lilla Cabot Perry was an American Impressionist painter, whose career spanned the last decade of the 19th century and the first decade of the 20th.

• She specialized in portraits, and most of her famous paintings feature her own daughters, and other family members. 

• She is known for her friendship with the father of Impressionism, Claude Monet, and for her long study of his technique.

• Although she is known as an Impressionist, her society portraits tended to be realistic and formal.

• As a woman, she broke through the conventions and expectations of her privileged upbringing by taking her career seriously.

• Cecilia Beaux was the most famous and accomplished woman artist in America in the 19th century. 

• She was one of the most successful society portrait artists of her era, the late 19th and early 20th century.

• Her style was realistic, with Impressionist influence.

• Cecilia was also an important art educator, the first woman to have a permanent position at the Pennsylvania Academy.

• As a woman, she was the first artist to deliberately reject marriage and family in favor of pursuing her career as a total commitment, and to make a point about this choice.

California Women of the 19th Century

Civilization came to California in the 1850s and 1860s.

  • After the discovery of gold in 1949, and the territory was declared a state. Not all the pioneers who trekked across the vast plains, or sailed the vast ocean, to get to California were gold-miners. People who had lived in small towns in the east, who might have had small businesses, and other sorts of enterprising people, some of them quite educated, also came to try their luck in the Land of Opportunity.

The San Francisco School of Design was established in 1874.

  • The first generation of settlers produced several artists by the 1870s and 1880s, including several women.
  • The San Francisco School of Design was very influential in developing the art scene in California. It was attended by most of the prominent artists of that early period. Presently this school is called the San Francisco Art Institute, and it is located on Russian Hill. It was originally located in an elaborate Victorian mansion that had been donated for the purpose. When that building burned down in the 1906 earthquake, it was replaced with a more modest building on the same site.

The San Francisco School of Design was innovative.

  • Teachers encouraged students to paint from direct observation, rather than by copying models or other paintings. 
  • The school admitted women students from the beginning, without a lot of prejudice.

The first generation of women artists in California:

We are going to consider the work of two women from Northern California. They are about the same age, and the both trained at the San Francisco School of Design, though not at the same time. Both of them succeeded by focusing on a narrow specialty and taking a documentary attitude. These limitations also limited the scope of their achievement and their fame.

• Grace Carpenter Hudson was the first California woman to develop a national reputation, and one of the nation's earliest commercially successful women artists.

• She specialized in the depiction of the Pomo Indians who lived in the Ukiah area.

• Her style was traditional realism that showed no influence of modern trends.

• As a woman, she found an equal partner in her husband, who shared her interest in the Pomos and supported her career.

• Evelyn McCormick was a California Impressionist painter whose career started in the 1890s. 

• She was one of the earliest women in California to have a successful career as an artist.

• Evelyn lived and worked in Monterey, and most of her subjects were local scenery and historical architecture. This specialization limited the scope of her ambition.

• She enjoyed a Bohemian lifestyle and sexual liberation. 


1. Rosa Bonheur was the most popular animal painter for a short period in the middle of the 1800s.

2. The most important Impressionist painters were Monet, Renoir, Cassatt, and Morisot. For awhile, the women were as famous, as well-regarded, and as successful as the men.

3. Mary Cassatt is hands down the greatest woman painter of the 1800s.

4. The greatest woman painter to make her career in the U.S. in the 1800s was Cecilia Beaux.

5. Pioneering California women limited their ambitions by limiting their subject matter. Grace Hudson painted the Pomo Indians and Evelyn McCormick painted the scenery of Monterey.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

One: Women Old Masters

Art from the Beginning:

The Italians more or less invented painting as we know it, way back in the 1200s. At first, painting was mainly church decoration—simplified, flat illustrations of sacred stories and ideas. Artists were merely anonymous craftsmen.

One of the earliest artists to make a name for himself was Cimabue. His most famous work is a large altarpiece now at the Louvre in Paris.

Virgin Enthroned with Angels, c. 1280
Louvre / Jan's photo, 2015

During the Renaissance, basically the 1400s and early 1500s, painters had perfected 3-dimensional modeling of faces and figures, and convincing methods for conveying perspective as well. For the next few centuries, everyone wanted to paint like Raphael.

The Alba Madonna, c. 1510
National Gallery, D.C. / Internet
Women didn't get a foothold in art until the mid-1500s. This is sometimes called the late Renaissance period, but by then the ideal style had become more mannered and ostentatious, and the range of subjects and styles had expanded. One of the foremost mannerists was Bronzino.

Eleonora of Toledo with her son Giovanni, 1545

Late Renaissance

The story of women's role in the art world begins in the late Renaissance period.

The Italians:

1532-1625: Sofonisba Anguissola

• Sofonisba was the first woman artist to establish an international reputation. Her success modeled the possibility that a woman could succeed as a professional artist.

• Her father recognized her talent, secured training for her,  and guided her career until she got established.

• She was court painter to Philip II of Spain for 14 years. When she completed that assignment, she returned to Italy, where she continued to be a leading portrait painter.

• She became financially independent and internationally recognized for her talent.

1552-1614: Lavinia Fontana

• Lavinia was the first woman artist who was able to succeed in the open art market, without a royal patron. At the height of her career, she was wealthy and widely celebrated.

• After 20 years as the favorite portrait artist of the noblewomen of Bologna, Lavinia moved to Rome where she had many important sitters, including the Pope.

• Lavinia's father, Prospero Fontana, was a successful painter. He trained her and managed her career.

• Lavinia was the breadwinner for her family, which included 11 children; her husband managed the household and her studio.

1593-1654: Artemisia Gentileschi

• Artemisia was the first truly great woman artist, and one of the most progressive artists of her time.

• Her father was a great artist named Orazio Gentileschi. Orazio trained her and helped her get her career started.

• Her typical theme was Biblical stories featuring strong female figures. She re-interpreted the old stories from a woman's point of view.

• Artemisia is known as a victim of rape and a barbarous rape trial. She was the first woman to depict stories in which female heroes committed violence upon male villains.

The 1600s:

The 1600s was the Dutch Golden Age, the Age of Frans Hals and Rembrandt.

Frans Hals, 1580-1666
Buffoon with a Lute, 1626

The Prodigal Son in the Tavern,
Self-portrait with Saskia, c. 1635

Art was so much in demand in Holland in the 1600s, that a woman artist was able to build a successful career, despite the intense competition.

1609-1660: Judith Leyster, Dutch

• Judith was a successful painter of scenes from everyday life during the Dutch Golden Age.

• Her career was only 6 years long, ending when she got married to a more famous artist.

• Judith was forgotten as an artist and much of her work was attributed to a more famous artist named Frans Hals. She was rediscovered in the 20th century and 35 paintings have been identified as hers.

A contemporary of Judith Leyster's in France also managed to hold her own, despite the narrow specialty of still life.

1610-1696: Louise Moillon, French

• Louise was a pioneer of still-life painting in France during the 17th century. Her fame was such that she received commissions from the royalty of both France and England.

• She specialized in naturalistic arrangements of fruit and vegetables.

• Her career was only about 11 years long, ending when she married a wealthy timber merchant.


In the 1700s an artist emerged who was a citizen of the world. She was born in Switzerland to Austrian parents, trained in Italy, and achieved significant success in both London and Rome.

1741-1807: Angelica Kauffmann, Swiss-Austrian

• Though her heritage was Austrian, Angelica was the foremost woman painter in both England and Italy in the late 1700s.

 Her speciality was Neo-classical paintings depicting historical scenes. She was also popular as a portraitist.

• Angelica began her career in Italy, and soon became celebrated for her talent and charm in both Florence and Rome.

• When Angelica was invited to visit London, she was quickly recognized by the major artists there, and she had the distinction of being a founding member of the Royal Academy of Art, one of two women in the group. 

• She returned to Italy in middle age, where she continued to be successful and popular.

• Angelica was trained by her father, a minor artist named J.J. Kauffman. He also directed and supported her early career. 


During the 1700s, France began its long domination of art. The monarchy was flourishing and royalty employed the arts for the enhancement of its image. At a bare minimum, everyone who was anyone needed to have their portrait painted now and then, and a steady stream of portrait work could support more ambitious compositions, which in turn might lead to bigger commissions. For portraits, aristocratic women often preferred to have a woman artist—they were cheaper and better company. Thus we have the unusual phenomenon of a group of women flourishing in Paris at the same time. A few of them were even elected to the Royal Academy of Painting, the ultimate pat on the back for a beginning artist.

The first trend to wow the art world during the 1700s was Rococo. It  used soft colors and curvy lines to depict scenes of amorous encounters and light-hearted entertainment. The best known painter of this era was François Boucher. Here's an example of his work.

François Boucher
The Toilet of Venus, 1751

Jean-Antoine Watteau was another big name of the era. He frequently dealt with theatrical subjects.

Jean-Antoine Watteau
The Italian Comedians, 1721

The second half of the 1700s was the age of Neo-classicism. Artists were looking to Greece and Rome, or to their idea of classical culture, for themes and styles. The ultimate Neo-Classicist was Jacque-Louis David. Here's an example of his work.

Jacques-Louis David
The Death of Socrates, 1787

David could also paint charming portraits.

Jacques-Louis David
Madame Seriziat, 1795

Between 1780 and 1810, women ranked among the most sought-after artists in Paris, and three of the Academy's four female members regularly exhibited at the biennial Salons.

Royal women were the most important patrons for many women artists. Vallayer-Coster, who joined the Académie in 1770, was chiefly admired for her still lifes of flowers, but it was her figural painting that won her the patronage of Queen Marie Antoinette and the powerful daughters of King Louis XV. Marie-Antoinette also played an important role in the admission of Vigée Le Brun, and the King's daughters named Labille-Guiard as their First Painter.

The simultaneous admission of Labille-Guiard and Vigée Le Brun caused a stir in the art world and beyond, and the press immediately cast them as rivals, pitting Vigée Le Brun’s “feminine” style against the “masculine” characteristics of Labille-Guiard’s paintings.

Although many critics applauded their new prominence, others lamented the immodesty of women who would display their skills so publicly. Indeed, pamphleteers frequently conflated the exhibition of these women’s paintings with the display of their bodies, and they were hounded by salacious rumors.

The onset of the French Revolution in 1789 created difficult conditions for the artists who had established their reputations with assistance from the royal family. Vigée Le Brun and Vallayer-Coster fled the country, joining many of their aristocratic patrons at the courts of England and Russia, and elsewhere in continental Europe. Labille-Guiard, in contrast, remained in France and attempted to redefine herself as an artist in the new Republic. Not only did she exhibit the portraits of Robespierre and other leaders of the Revolution at the 1791 Salon, but she also built on her reputation as a teacher of young women by proposing a new system for educating girls. Yet in 1793, during the height of the Terror, a government committee ordered the destruction of several of her portraits. She survived the Revolution, but her career never recovered.

1744-1818: Anne Vallayer-Coster

• Anne Vallayer-Coster was a renowned still life painter in the late 1700s in France.

• She had particular skill at rendering objects with fool-the-eye realism, but in the middle part of her her career she began to specialize in floral arrangements.

• She was among the first women to be admitted to the French Academy of Art.

• She painted several admirable portraits of the aristocracy, but her figurative work was considered inferior to that of her rivals, and she eventually gave it up.

• Although Anne received the patronage of Queen Marie Antoinette, she survived the French Revolution of 1789 by moving to the country with her wealthy husband.

• When the monarchy was restored, Anne received the patronage of Empress Josephine.

1749-1803: Adélaïde Labille-Guiard

• Adélaïde Labille-Guiard was one of the most prominent portrait artists in France in the late 1700s. In addition to oil painting, she was also a master of miniatures and pastels.

• Although Adélaïde flattered her subjects as required, she still showed a remarkable truth to character, without romanticization. She also excelled at ultra-realistic depiction of objects and furnishings.

• Her career was based on patronage from the ladies of the French court. However, she was sympathetic to certain aims of the Revolution, and after it was over, she attempted to redefine herself as an artist in the new Republic.

• She was also a strong proponent of art training for women and their right to build careers on an equal footing with men.

1755-1842: Élisabeth Vigée-Lebrun

• Élisabeth Vigée-Lebrun was the most celebrated and successful portrait artist of the late 1700s in France. Her work may be seen in museums in the United States and Russia as well as France.

• Her patrons were Royalty. She was the favorite of Marie-Antoinette, and after the French Revolution, she traveled to Italy and Russia and painted members of royal families there. After 12 years of living abroad, she was able to return to France, and continue her career.

• Her portraits have a romantic flair that both flatters her subjects and gives them a special aura. Instead of posing royal women formally in fashionable clothes, she gave them relaxed and appealing poses and contrived marvelous costumes for them; her way with the texture and drape of luxury fabrics was magical.

1761-1837: Marguerite Gérard

• Marguerite was the first French woman to succeed as a genre painter.

• Her most important works are scenes of mothers tending their children or women sharing confidences.

• She was the unofficial apprentice of Fragonard, a major Rococo painter, who was also her brother-in-law.

• Marguerite was not a court painter; her patrons were the upper middle class—wealthy and educated. Thus she was not threatened by the Revolution, and her career thrived afterward.

• Although Marguerite's talent was great and her contribution to painting was important, she fell into oblivion after her death, and even today her work is hard to find.


The first woman to be a successful artist was Sofonisba Anguissola, whose career was in the late 1500s and early 1600s, the afterglow of the Renaissance.

The most important of the early Italian women artists was Artemisia Gentileschi, who lived in the Baroque era, the first half of the 1600s.

In the Golden Age of Dutch Art, the 1600s, Judith Leyster had a successful career despite the high standards set by Frans Hals and Rembrandt.

The first woman to become a star in Britain as well as Italy was Angelica Kauffman.

The most celebrated French woman artist of the late 1700s was Élisabeth Vigée-Lebrun.

Artemisia Gentileschi and Élisabeth Vigée-Lebrun are the most important of the Old Master Women.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Overview of Women Artists

1500s and 1600s: The Italians

1600s: Mixed Group

1700s: International
1700s and 1800s: French











Social Documentarians:

Desert Abstractionists:


Abstract Expressionists:



19th Century Neo-classicism:

Early 20th Century Traditionalism:




Fixed Subject:


1930-2002: Niki de Saint Phalle

Born 1933: Yoko Ono

Born 1939: Judy Chicago