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Depiction of women artists in art history (2nd nomination)

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Judith Leyster-Self-Portrait

Wikipedia:Judith Leyster, Wikipedia:Self-portrait, 1630, Wikipedia:National Gallery of Art, Wikipedia:Washington, D.C. Leyster's paintings on occasion were reassigned to Wikipedia:Frans Hals, with whom she studied

The depiction of women artists in art history has often been mis-characterized, both intentionally and unintentially by the times; often dictated by the socio-political mores of the era. Throughout art history women and their likenesses have been important and primary subjects of the Wikipedia:Fine Arts. Portrayals of women in sculpture, painting, photography and the other arts by artists have often been characterized and influenced by the political and social standards of the age.

Issues with the historyEdit

There are a number of issues in constructing a history of women artists.

  1. Scarcity of biographical information about all artists. While this is true of males, and that it is presumed that there were fewer females who were artists, this dearth of information is even more problematic.
  2. Anonymity. Women artists were often most active in artistic expressions that were not typically signed. This includes many forms of textile production, including weaving, embroidery, and lace-making as well as manuscript illumination. During the Early Medieval period, manuscript illumination was a pursuit of monks and nuns alike.[1] While occasional artists of this period are named, the vast majority of these illuminators remain unknown. This leaves researchers with whole groups of artists for whom no information is available.
  3. Impermanence of the media. Textiles in particular are fashioned of media that have strong susceptibilities to light, temperature, and moisture. Additionally, these products are usually functional objects and as such subject to wear. This means that only a tiny fraction of the textile work created by women is extant.
  4. Wikipedia:Painters' Guilds. In the Medieval and Renaissance periods, many women worked in the workshop system. These women worked under the auspices of a male workshop head, very often the artist's father. Until the twelfth century there is no record of a workshop headed by a woman, when a widow would be allowed to assume her husband's former position. Often Wikipedia:guild rules would forbid women from attaining the various ranks leading to master,[2][3] so they remained "unofficial". As with all workshop production, the works produced would be signed by the workshop master, with the signature signifying a level of quality, rather than singular authorship. It is hard to differentiate the elements created by the various artists of any workshop, and until the late Renaissance few works were signed at all.
  5. Naming Conventions. Another problem is the convention whereby women take their husbands' last names. This obviously impedes research, especially for example, in some cases where a work of unknown origin may be signed only with a first initial and last name. Furthermore, most reference works on artists, even those online, allow searches by last name only, but not by first name only (although some such as [] allow this). Clarity of identity is central to the western notion of the artistic genius who creates masterpieces which may be clearly situated and studied in relation to the contributions of other artists.
When one speaks of artists who happen to be women, however, even the simplest biographical statements may be misleading. For example, one might say that Wikipedia:Jane Frank was born in 1918, but in reality, she was Wikipedia:Jane Schenthal at birth — Jane "Frank" didn't exist until over twenty years later.[4]
The changing of women's last names, combined with a research system based on patriarchally transmitted surnames, creates a discontinuity of identity for women, as a class, blurring the view for anyone trying to establish a clear path for the individual artistic careers of women.


Mistaken identityEdit

  • 1. Incorrect Attribution. Finally, in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, work by women was often reassigned. Some unscrupulous dealers even went so far as to alter signatures, as in the case of some paintings by Wikipedia:Judith Leyster, seen in a self-portrait at right, which were reassigned to Wikipedia:Frans Hals.[6][7][8]
  • 2. Incorrect Attribution.

Wikipedia:Marie-Denise Villers (1774–1821) was a French painter, who specialized in Wikipedia:portraits. She was born Marie-Denise Lemoine in Paris. She came from an artistic family, and her sisters Marie-Victoire and Marie-Élisabeth Lemoine were also accomplished artists. In 1794, Marie-Denise married an architecture student, Michel-Jean-Maximilien Villers.

Villers was a student of the French painter Wikipedia:Girodet. She was first exhibited at the Wikipedia:Paris Salon of the Year VII (1799). Villers' most famous painting, Young Woman Drawing, (1801) is displayed in the Wikipedia:Metropolitan Museum of Art. The painting was attributed to Wikipedia:Jacques-Louis David at one time, but was later realized to be Villers' work. It is considered to be a self-portrait of the artist.[9] [10]

By contrast, in the late twentieth century, in a rush to acquire paintings by women, there have been cases of paintings wrongly attributed to women.Template:Citation needed

See also Edit


  1. Nuns as Artists: The Visual Culture of a Medieval Convent, Jeffrey F. Hamburger, University of California Press
  2. Dutch Seventeenth-Century Genre Painting: Its Stylistic and Thematic Evolution, Wayne Franits, Yale University Press, 2008, ISBN 0-300-10237-2, page 49
  3. [Dutch Painting 1600-1800 Pelican history of art, ISSN 0553-4755, Yale University Press, p.129
  4. Stanton, Phoebe B., "The Sculptural Landscape of Jane Frank" World Cat monograph including b&w and color plates, 120pp. (A.S. Barnes: South Brunswick, New Jersey, and New York, 1968) ISBN 1-125-32317-5 [A second edition of this book was published in July 1969 (Yoseloff: London, ISBN 0-498-06974-5; also ISBN 978-0-498-06974-1). 144 pages, rare edition.]
  5. Metropolitan Museum of Art
  6. Hofstede de Groot, Cornelis. "Judith Leyster," Jahrbuch der Königlich Preussischen Kunstsammlungen vol. 14 (1893), pp. 190-198; 232.
  7. Hofrichter, Frima Fox. "Judith Leyster: Leading Star," Judith Leyster: A Dutch Master and Her World, (Yale University, 1993).
  8. Molenaer, Judith. "Leyster, Judith, Dutch, 1609 - 1660," National Gallery of Art website. Accessed Feb. 1, 2014.
  9. Hess, Thomas B. (1971). "Editorial: Is Women's Lib Medieval?". 
  10. Higonnet, Anne. “White Dress, Broken Glass: Starting All Over Again in the Age of Revolution.” Norma Hugh Lifton Lecture. School of the Art Institute, Chicago. October 2011. Art historian Anne Higonnet argues that Young Woman Drawing is a self-portrait.

Further readingEdit

  • Anscombe, Isabelle, A Woman's Touch: Women in Design from 1860 to the Present Day, Penguin, New York, 1985. ISBN 0-670-77825-7.
  • Armstrong, Carol and Catherine de Zegher (eds.), Women Artists at the Millennium, Wikipedia:The MIT Press, Cambridge, 2006. ISBN 0-262-01226-X.
  • Bank, Mirra, Anonymous Was A Woman, Saint Martin's Press, New York, 1979. ISBN 0-312-13430-4.
  • Broude, Norma, and Mary D. Garrard, The Power of Feminist Art, Wikipedia:Harry N. Abrams, Inc. New York, 1995. ISBN 0-8109-2659-8.
  • Brown, Betty Ann, and Arlene Raven, Exposures: Women and their Art, NewSage Press, Pasadena, CA, 1989. ISBN 0-939165-11-2.
  • Callen, Anthea, Women Artists of the Arts and Crafts Movement, 1870–1914, Pantheon, N.Y., 1979. ISBN 0-394-73780-6.
  • Caws, Mary Anne, Rudolf E. Kuenzli, and Gwen Raaberg, Surrealism and Women, MIT Press, Cambridge, MA, 1990. ISBN 0-262-53098-8.
  • Chadwick, Whitney, Women, Art, and Society, Wikipedia:Thames and Hudson, London, 1990. ISBN 0-500-20241-9.
  • Chadwick, Whitney, Women Artists and the Surrealist Movement, Thames and Hudson, London, 1985. ISBN 0-500-27622-6.
  • Chanchreek, K.L. and M.K. Jain, Eminent Women Artists, New Delhi, Shree Pub., 2007, xii, 256 p., ISBN 978-81-8329-226-9.
  • Cherry, Deborah, Painting Women: Victorian Women Artists, Routledge, London, 1993. ISBN 0-415-06053-2.
  • Chiarmonte, Paula, Women Artists in the United States: a Selective Bibliography and Resource Guide on the Fine and Decorative Arts, G. K. Hall, Boston, 1990. ISBN 0-8161-8917-X
  • Deepwell, Katy (ed),Women Artists and Modernism,Manchester University Press,1998. ISBN 0-7190-5082-0.
  • Deepwell, Katy (ed),New Feminist Art Criticism;Critical Strategies,Manchester University Press, 1995. ISBN 0-7190-4258-5.
  • Fine, Elsa Honig, Women & Art, Allanheld & Schram/Prior, London, 1978. ISBN 0-8390-0187-8.
  • Florence, Penny and Foster, Nicola, Differential Aesthetics, Ashgate, Burlington, 2000. ISBN 0-7546-1493-X.
  • Greer, Germaine, The Obstacle Race: The Fortunes of Women Painters and Their Work, Farrar Straus Giroux, New York, 1979. ISBN 0-374-22412-9.
  • Harris, Anne Sutherland and Linda Nochlin, Women Artists: 1550–1950, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Alfred Knopf, New York, 1976. ISBN 0-394-41169-2.
  • Henkes, Robert. The Art of Black American Women: Works of Twenty-Four Artists of the Twentieth Century, McFarland & Company, 1993.
  • Hess, Thomas B. and Elizabeth C. Baker, Art and Sexual Politics: Why have there been no Great Women Artists?, Collier Books, New York, 1971
  • Marsh, Jan, The Pre-Raphaelite Sisterhood, Wikipedia:St. Martin's Press, New York, 1985. ISBN 0-7043-0169-5.
  • Marsh, Jan, and Pamela Gerrish Nunn, Pre-Raphaelite Women Artists, Thames and Hudson, London, 1998. ISBN 0-500-28104-1
  • The National Museum of Women in the Arts, Wikipedia:Harry N. Abrams, Inc., N.Y. 1987. ISBN 0-8109-1373-9.
  • Nochlin, Linda, Women, Art, and Power and Other Essays, Wikipedia:Harper & Row, New York, 1988. ISBN 0-06-435852-6.
  • Parker, Rozsika, and Griselda Pollock, Framing Feminism: Art and the Women's Movement, 1970–1985, Pandora, London and New York, 1987. ISBN 0-86358-179-X.
  • Parker, Rozsika, and Griselda Pollock, Old Mistresses: Women, Art & Ideology, Wikipedia:Pantheon Books, New York, 1981. ISBN 0-7100-0911-9.
  • Parker, Rozsika, The Subversive Stitch: Embroidery and the Making of the Feminine, Routledge, New York, 1984. ISBN 0-7043-4478-5.
  • Petteys, Chris, Dictionary of Women Artists: an international dictionary of women artists born before 1900, G.K. Hall, Boston, 1985
  • Pollock, Griselda, Vision and Difference: Femininity, Feminism and the Histories of Art, Routledge, London, 1988. ISBN 0-415-00722-4
  • Pollock, Griselda, Generations and Geographies in the Visual Arts, Routledge, London, 1996. ISBN 0-415-14128-1
  • Pollock, Griselda, (edited and introduction by Florence, Penny), Looking back to the Future, G&B Arts, Amsterdam, 2001. ISBN 90-5701-132-8
  • Pollock, Griselda, Encounters in the Virtual Feminist Museum: Time, Space and the Archive, 2007. Routledge. ISBN 0-415-41374-5.
  • Rosenthal, Angela, Angelica Kauffman: Art and Sensibility, London and New Haven: Yale University Press, 2006. ISBN 0-300-10333-6.
  • Rubinstein, Charlotte Streifer, American Women Sculptors: A History of Women Working in Three Dimensions, G.K. Hall, Boston. 1990
  • Sills, Leslie. Visions: Stories About Women Artists, Albert Whitman & Company, 1993.
  • Slatkin, Wendy, Voices of Women Artists, Wikipedia:Prentice Hall, N.J., 1993. ISBN 0-13-951427-9.
  • Slatkin, Wendy, Women Artists in History: From Antiquity to the 20th Century, Prentice Hall, N.J., 1985. ISBN 0-13-027319-8.
  • Tufts, Eleanor, American Women Artists, 1830–1930, The National Museum of Women in the Arts, 1987. ISBN 0-940979-02-0.
  • Waller, Susan, Women Artists in the Modern Era: A Documentary History, Scarecrow Press Inc., London, 1991. ISBN 0-8108-4345-5.
  • Watson-Jones, Virginia, Contemporary American Women Sculptors, Oryx Press, Phoenix, 1986. ISBN 0-89774-139-0
  • de Zegher, Catherine, Inside the Visible, MIT Press, Massachusetts, 1996.

Wikipedia:Category:Women artists Wikipedia:Category:Art history Wikipedia:Category:Gender studies Artists Wikipedia:Category:Women and the arts

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