I wouldn’t say I am one of those obvious shout out loud sort of feminists but honestly being a woman and living in the world we live in I don’t know why you wouldn’t be a feminist. Also as I get older I recognise more and more the little ‘unfairnesses’ and more obvious statements of every day sexism in the West (I won’t even get onto the subject of the situation of the vast majority of the world’s women).
Anyway I saw this video the other day …
It is beautifully done but I noted that of the 90 portraits shared only two of them were by female artists.
So I thought I would highlight some female artists from history that you might not have heard about and I think could have been included in this video.
Gentileschi has become more well known in recent years as knowledge of her sort of ‘disappeared’ after her death. However, in her lifetime she was the first female artist to become a member of the Design Academy in Florence and counted the Granduke Cosimo II de Medici and several other royalty as her patrons. Her paintings often represent strong female characters, thought to be influenced by her rape at the age of 17 by her father’s friend who she also studied under.
Anguissola was perhaps less dramatic than her later counterpart, Gentilesche. She excelled in portraiture at a time when women weren’t allowed to study anatomy and nudes and so were limited to portrait compositions. I saw one of her portraits in the Brera Gallery in Milan and loved her modestly sized self-portrait. She seems like she would have been interesting to know don’t you think? She lived into her 90s and this is one of her older self-portraits.
These two ladies aside I was also thinking about Frida Kahlo. And was watching a programme the other day to discover that I knew Tamara de Lempicka’s work without knowing that these famous portraits were made by a woman. I am kind of blown away by these women who must have faced such difficulties in an ‘industry’ that was incredibly male driven on top of living in a much more patriarchal society than now. Wikipedia has a whole list of other women artists through different periods who have also ‘stood out’ if you want to learn about more female artists.
Do you have any favourite female artists from the past, or present? I’d love to learn more!
Image 1: Self-Portrait as the Allegory of Painting, 1630s, Royal Collection (possibly self-portrait)
Image 2: Self-Portrait, c1540, Pinacoteca di Brera, Milan (taken by me on my iphone)