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Portraits of Women Artists

Smithsonian American Art Museum

Women Artists Speak to Government

National Museum of American History

Women Artists Speak to Government

National Museum of American History

Women Artists Speak to Government

National Museum of American History

Women Artists Speak to Government

National Museum of American History

Women Artists Speak to Government

National Museum of American History

Exhibition catalog for the Sixth annual exhibition of the San Francisco Society of Women Artists

Archives of American Art
1 exhibition catalog ; 10 x 24 cm. Penciled on cover at bottom: Charles & Mrs. Cushing - [illegible].
From a scrapbook.
Exhibit was the first public viewing of Frida Kahlo's work.
Exhibition held from November 4 - December 3 at the California Palace of the Legion of Honor.
Only cover and two representative pages have been scanned.

Woman Artist

Smithsonian American Art Museum

Woman Artists Speak to Government

National Museum of American History

Newcomb Pottery – An Educational Experiment for Women Artists

Smithsonian Libraries

I’ve been a fan of Newcomb pottery since I first saw an example on the Antiques Roadshow more than a decade ago. Currently I have the opportunity to see Newcomb pottery every day — three pieces are featured in an art pottery and glass exhibit at the National Museum of American History, the building where I work. more »

The post Newcomb Pottery – An Educational Experiment for Women Artists appeared first on Smithsonian Libraries Unbound.

Some Living American Women Artists/Last Supper

Smithsonian American Art Museum

Linda Nochlin Consider the Difference: American Women Artists

Smithsonian Institution
Linda Nochlin, the Lila Acheson Wallace Professor of Modern Art at the New York University Institute of Fine Arts, pioneered the study of women and art with her groundbreaking 1971 essay, "Why Have There Been No Great Women Artists?" Considered the foremost scholar of feminist art history, she has authored numerous publications, including Women, Art, and Power and Other Essays (1988) and Representing Women (1999). She was also the co-curator of the landmark exhibition Women Artists: 1550—1950, held at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art in 1976. A former professor of art history at Yale University and Vassar College, Nochlin is also known for her work on Gustave Courbet. She has received fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Humanities and is currently a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

The Grand Women Artists of the Hudson River School

Smithsonian Magazine

When Americans took to travel and tourism in the mid-19th century, exploring the great landscape around them brought particular challenges, especially to women, who were constrained by the strictures of proper behavior and dress. But that didn’t stop a coterie of female artists like Susie M. Barstow, who not only climbed the principal peaks of the Adirondacks, the Catskills and the White Mountains, but also sketched and painted along the way—sometimes “in the midst of a blinding snow-storm,” according to one account.

If you have never heard of Barstow, you are not alone. The curators of “Remember the Ladies: Women of the Hudson River School,” a little exhibition in upstate New York that features works by Barstow and her cohorts, have set themselves the enormous goal of rewriting a chapter in American art history—to include these artists.

These women ventured on their own or alongside male relatives into the wilderness, painting the glorious scenery that inspired America’s first art movement. And as the show on view since May at the Thomas Cole National Historic Site in Catskill, New York, amply demonstrates, they made works that are just as awe-inspiring as those of their male counterparts.

“I was so moved by Harriet Cany Peale’s Kaaterskill Clove,” says Elizabeth Jacks, director of the Cole site, which honors the founder of the Hudson River school. “When you see it in person, it looks like it belongs in the Metropolitan Museum of Art.” Or perhaps other museums. Curators Nancy J. Siegel, an art history professor at Towson University in Maryland, and Jennifer C. Krieger, managing partner of Hawthorne Fine Art in New York City, have had from the start ambitions beyond mounting “the first known exhibition to focus solely on these women.”

Who are these women, so long ignored, that even experts like Nancy G. Heller, author of Women Artists: An Illustrated History,” whose fourth edition was published in 2004, make no mention of them?

Often they were the sisters, daughters and wives of better-known male artists. Harriet Cany Peale, at first a student of Rembrandt Peale, became his second wife. Sarah Cole was Thomas Cole’s sister; her daughter Emily Cole is also in the exhibit. Jane Stuart called Gilbert Stuart “father.” Evelina Mount was niece to William Sidney Mount, while Julia Hart Beers was the sister of two artists, William Hart and James Hart. Others—Barstow, Eliza Greatorex and Josephine Walters, among them—had no relatives in the art world.

Although women were educated in the arts, being a professional artist in the 19th century was the province of men. Most art academies didn’t admit women, and neither did the clubs that linked artists with patrons. The requisite figure-drawing classes, which featured nude models, were off-limits to most women. One artist in the exhibition, Elizabeth Gilbert Jerome, was forbidden from making art, an activity considered by some to be so unladylike that when she was 15, her stepmother burned all of her drawings. Only at age 27 was Jerome able to begin studying drawing and painting.

Image by Collection of Edward and Deborah Pollack. Untitled (Clarendon, Vermont?), 1874, Laura Woodward. (original image)

Image by Cape Ann Museum, Gift of Jean Stanley. Field Beach, c. 1850s, Mary Blood Mellen. (original image)

Image by Neville-Strass Collection. Hudson River Scene, Mary Josephine Walters. (original image)

Image by Collection of Nicholas V. Bulzacchelli. Forest Interior, Mary Josephine Walters. (original image)

Image by Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, Hartford, Conn., Bequest of Daniel Wadsworth. Coach Fording a Stream, c. 1825-1830, Jane Stuart. (original image)

Image by Courtesy of the American Antiquarian Society, Worcester, Mass.. The Shaded Nook, 19th century. (original image)

Image by Courtesy of the American Antiquarian Society, Worcester, Mass.. Mountain Group, 19th century. (original image)

Image by Private Collection. Kaaterskill Clove, 1858, Harriet Cany Peale. (original image)

Image by The Long Island Museum of American Art, History & Carriages, Gift of Mr. and Mrs. John N. MacDonough, 2002.25. Untitled (Landscape with Trees), Evelina Mount. (original image)

Image by The Long Island Museum of American Art, History & Carriages, Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Ward Melvill, 76.17.77. Daisies, Evelina Mount. (original image)

Image by Collection of Jack and Mary Ann Hollihan. Tropical Landscape, 1871, Elizabeth Jerome. (original image)

Image by Collection of Ron and Carole Berg. Joseph Chaudlet House on the Bloomingdale Road, c. 1868, Eliza Greatorex. (original image)

Image by Neville-Strass Collection. Natural Bridge, 1884, Josephine Chamberlin Ellis. (original image)

Image by Mark Lasalle Fine Art. Autumn Landscape with Figures, 1871, Edith Wilkinson Cook. (original image)

Image by Collection of Jack and Mary Ann Hollihan. Forest Brook, 1895, Charlotte Buell Coman. (original image)

Image by Neville-Strass Collection. Ancient Column Near Syracuse, c. 1848, Sarah Cole. (original image)

Image by Collection of Jack and Mary Ann Hollihan. Woodland Scene, 1881, Julie Hart Beers. (original image)

Image by Private Collection. Summer Landscape, 1869, Julie Hart Beers. (original image)

Image by Collection of Jack and Mary Ann Hollihan. The Hudson as seen from Henry Villard's House—Tarrytown—Christmas, 1881, Julie Hart Beers. (original image)

Image by Collection of Nicholas V. Bulzacchelli. Hudson Valley at Croton Point, 1869, Julie Hart Beers. (original image)

Image by Collection of Elizabeth and Alfred Scott. Landscape, 1865, Susie M. Barstow. (original image)

Undaunted, these talented women persevered, sometimes with the help and support of men like Cole and Fitz Henry Lane, who both gave instruction to women. Some women of the period exhibited their work at venues like the National Academy of Design, the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts and the Brooklyn Art Association. And others, like Greatorex, who was widowed at an early age, even managed to support themselves and their families with sales of their art.

Though their paintings were largely left out of the story of American art, the exhibition displays work that reflects the same romantic sensibility, respect for balance, luminosity and love of picturesque landscapes as those of artists like Cole, Asher B. Durand and Frederic Church. “These paintings aren’t particularly feminine; they’re not flowery,” Jacks says. “If you walked into the show, you’d just say these are a group of Hudson River school paintings. They are part of the movement. It’s our own problem that we haven’t included them in the history of the Hudson River school.”

Jacks says the show came about after a board member and a former board member of the Cole site separately asked, “What about the women?” She contacted Siegel, with whom she had worked previously. Siegel, who had already been working on the subject, then called Krieger, who she thought would know which private collectors owned works by these artists. Krieger, whose interests include feminist art history, was delighted: on her own, she had hired an assistant to help her research this area. “We had all conceived it separately, on a parallel track,” she explains.

According to Jacks, visitors to the show are amazed by the quality achieved by artists wholly unfamiliar to them. “The number one question we’ve been asked is ‘why hasn’t anyone done this before?’ I don’t know how to answer that,” she says.

The exhibition has provoked another desired response, though. In hopes of creating a larger exhibition that might travel to other venues, the curators are in search of more works, They have already added to their list of potential works to borrow and artists to include. Among the artists new to Krieger are Emma Roseloe Sparks Prentice, Margaretta Angelica Peale and Rachel Ramsey Wiles (mother of Irving Wiles).

The exhibition in Catskill runs through October.

And then—after the paintings, drawings and photographs are returned to their owners—Siegel and Krieger will begin work on the larger task of ensuring that these women become part of the American art narrative. To add that chapter, says Siegel, “there is much more work to be done.”

Editor's Note -- July 29, 2010: An earlier version of this story indicated that the "Remember the Ladies" exhibition would be moving to the New Britain Museum of American Art. It is no longer scheduled to be shown at that museum.

Notes on an unpublished article on black women artists for Essence

Archives of American Art
Note : 5 p. : handwritten Notes on an unpublished article for Essence include handwritten index of black women artists, and lists of black women artists and pioneers. Also included is a typescript memo from Essence magazine with a call for lists of black women artists, inscribed with a handwritten note to Judith Wilson.

Women in the arts accuses New York galleries exhibiting none or too few women artists

Archives of American Art
Flyer : 1 sheet ; 22 x 28 cm.

Flyer created by Women in the Arts Foundation, Inc. accusing galleries Castelli, Borgenicht, Sonnabend, Janis, Marlborough, Weber, Denise Rene, Pace, Frumkin, O.K. Harris, Knoedler Cont., and Poindexter of "exhibiting none or too few women artists."

Ancient Women Artists May Be Responsible for Most Cave Art

Smithsonian Magazine

Since cave art often depicts game species, a subject near and dear to hunters, most researchers have assumed that the people behind this mysterious artwork must have been male. But new research suggests that’s not right: when scientists looked closely at a sample of hand stencils, a common motif in cave art, they concluded that about three-quarters were actually drawn by women.

What they looked at, specifically, was the lengths of fingers in drawings from eight caves in France and Spain, National Geographic writes. Biologists established rules of thumb for general differences between men and women’s hand structure about a decade ago.

Women tend to have ring and index fingers of about the same length, whereas men’s ring fingers tend to be longer than their index fingers.

Snow ran the numbers through an algorithm that he had created based on a reference set of hands from people of European descent who lived near his university. Using several measurements—such as the length of the fingers, the length of the hand, the ratio of ring to index finger, and the ratio of index finger to little finger—the algorithm could predict whether a given handprint was male or female. Because there is a lot of overlap between men and women, however, the algorithm wasn’t especially precise: It predicted the sex of Snow’s modern sample with about 60 percent accuracy.

The 32 hand prints he found in the caves, however, were more pronounced in their differences than those of the modern men and women he sampled. Based upon the model and measurements, he found that 75 percent of the hands belonged to women.

National Geographic points out that the mystery is far from definitively solved. While some hail the new study as a “landmark contribution,” others are more skeptical. Another researcher recently studied the palm-to-thumb ratio of the hand prints and concluded they mostly belonged to teenage boys, who, he told NatGeo, often drew their two favorite topics: big powerful animals and naked ladies.

More from Smithsonian.com:

The Top Four Candidates for Europe’s Oldest Works of Art  
Is This the Oldest Cave Art on the Planet? 

How Native Women Artists Guided the Creation of Hearts of Our People

Smithsonian American Art Museum
A colorful acrylic on canvasThe groundbreaking exhibition at the Renwick features more than 80 works from antiquity to the present

Uffizi Is Giving Women Artists a More Prominent Space on Its Walls

Smithsonian Magazine

Each year, millions of people flock to the Uffizi Gallery in Florence to see Raphael, Michelangelo, Caravaggio, Titian and Botticelli—all giants of the art world, and all, perhaps unsurprisingly, men.

Now, in an attempt to infuse some gender balance into this line-up, the gallery is giving women artists a more prominent space on its walls. As Hannah McGivern reports for The Art Newspaper, the Uffizi plans to launch exhibitions devoted to the works of two women: Suor Plautilla Nelli, a brush-wielding nun who is Florence’s first-known female Renaissance painter, and Maria Lassnig, a pioneering contemporary painter who reshaped the female body in art through a feminist lens.

The initiative to spotlight a greater number of women artists started in 2015 when newly minted Uffizi director Eike Schmidt met with members of the Guerrilla Girls, an anonymous feminist activist artist collective that’s been combating discrimination in the art world (while wearing Gorilla masks) since the 1980s.

According to Schmidt, the Uffizi is actually home to one of the largest, if not the largest, collection of works by women artists before the 19th century. But most of these paintings have been relegated to a narrow corridor that links the Uffizi to its sister museum, the Pitti Palace. Because the corridor is only accessible to private tour groups, Schmidt estimated that “far less than one percent” of visitors to the Uffizi see the paintings that hang there.

On March 8—International Women’s Day—Nelli’s works will emerge from the obscurity of the Uffizi’s hidden corridors for the general public’s purview. According to Advancing Women Artists, Nelli, a cloistered Dominican nun, painted large-scale religious works with a sensitivity and pathos that distinguished her from her male counterparts. She was quite popular in her day; in Renaissance painter Georgi Vasari’s seminal book of art history, he writes that her work hung in the houses of so many Florentine gentlemen that “it would be tedious to attempt to speak of them all."

The Uffizi’s Maria Lassnig exhibition will open two weeks later, at the Pitti Palace. Lassnig, who was born in Austria in 1919 and died in 2014, is known for creating self-portraits that reflected the brutality of her own self-image. She painted dismembered and distorted bodiesfaces suffocating in plastic, not to mention alien-like figures devouring fruit. Though The Guardian’s Christopher Masters writes that Lassnig was regarded highly by her contemporaries, she did not receive her first solo exhibition until she was 90 years old.

These two exhibitions are not just an exercise in tokenism. Schmidt told McGivern that he believes the Uffizi, drawing on its vast collection, could “easily” continue to highlight women artists for the next 20 years.

The Uffizi Gallery isn’t the only art museum that’s started to give some long-overdue recognition to influential women artists. Next year, Caroline Elbaor reports for artnet News, the 17th-century master painter Michaelina Wautier will have her first-ever solo exhibition at the Rubens Museum in Antwerp.

Highlighting the women artists in “Unbound: Narrative Art of the Plains”

National Museum of the American Indian
Alongside historic masterworks, "Unbound: Narrative Art of the Plains " showcases new pieces by 16 contemporary Native artists, three of whom are women. In honor of Women’s History Month, we are taking a closer look at one work by each of these women featured in the exhibition.

The Advantages of Being a Woman Artist

Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum
White political poster with black text. Text reads: "THE ADVANTAGES OF BEING A WOMAN ARTIST:/ Working without the pressure of success./ Not having to be in shows with men./ Having an escape from the art world in your 4 free-lance jobs./ Knowing your career might pick up after you're eighty./ Being reassured that whatever kind of art you make it will be labeled feminine./ Not being stuck in a tenured teaching position./ Seeing your ideas live on in the works of others./ Having the opportunity to choose between a career and motherhood./ Not having to choke on those big cigars or paint in Italian suits./ Having more time to work after your mate dumps you for someone younger./ Being included in revised versions of art history./ Not having to undergo the embarassment of being called a genius./ Getting your pictures in the art magazines wearing a gorilla suit./ Please send $ and comments to: Guerilla Girls Conscience of the Art World/ Box 1056 Cooper Sta. NY, NY 10276."

Sketches of a Woman Artist with Various Putti

Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum
Sketches of children

Legacy of Jane Fortune, Champion of Forgotten Women Artists, Lives on in New Initiative

Smithsonian Magazine

The late Jane Fortune’s quest to resurrect the world’s forgotten female artists began with a simple question: “Where are the women?”

Back in 2005, Fortune was touring the Italian capital of Florence. As she made her way through the city’s unparalleled collection of Italian Renaissance creations, she couldn’t help but notice that nearly all of the women represented on her trip were confined to the canvas. Conspicuously absent were works made by women, which were overwhelmingly left to gather dust in museum archives or hang underappreciated in out-of-the-way galleries.

Fortune—a lifelong philanthropist and arts patron who died of ovarian cancer in late September at the age of 76—resolved to disrupt that state of affairs. The year after her trip, she sponsored the restoration of 16th-century Dominican nun Plautilla Nelli’s “Lamentation With Saints”—a large-scale fresco painting that, pre-conservation, was lusterless, dirt-caked and infested with woodworms—and in 2009, she officially launched the non-profit Advancing Women Artists (AWA).

As Katharine Q. Seelye notes for the New York Times, AWA aims to identify, restore and exhibit works by Florence’s female artists. At the time of Fortune’s passing, the foundation had successfully restored 61 paintings and sculptures, all of which were delivered with the caveat that they remain on view instead of consigned back to storage. In addition to restoring dozens of works, AWA has identified a staggering 2,000 forgotten pieces—including Artemisia Gentileschi’s “David and Bathsheba,” which had languished in storage at the Palazzo Pitti for 363 years.

“I’m more concerned about saving art that has very little chance of surviving,” Fortune said. “And the interesting part about all of this is that many of the works we found—well, nobody knew they were there. Nobody knew anything about the artists. … They weren’t important, but rather beholden to their fathers, mothers, and husbands. They had no voice.”

Lovingly dubbed “Indiana Jane” by the Florentine press, Fortune not only championed the cause of Italy’s forgotten artists, but that of female artists across the world.

Sofonisba Anguissola, "Self-Portrait at the Easel Painting a Devotional Panel," 1556 (Wikimedia Commons)

Over at Hyperallergic this week, Karen Chernick notes that Fortune was also linked to A Space of Their Own—a soon-to-be launched illustrated database of United States and European painters, pastellists, printmakers and sculptors active between the 15th and 19th centuries.

The project, led by researchers at Indiana University, Bloomington’s Eskenazi Museum of Art, is co-sponsored by AWA and funded with a pilot grant from Fortune. Its name is pulled from Virginia Woolf’s proto-feminist 1928 essay A Room of One’s Own, which famously stated a “woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction” (or in this case, create art).

As Adelheid Gealt, project director and art historian at Indiana University, Bloomington, tells Smithsonian.com, the database, Fortune’s “brainchild,” is projected to be the most comprehensive of its kind, with offerings including artist biographies, images of works and information on their viewing availability, a directory of essential outside resources, and exclusive articles detailing the ever-growing body of scholarship on female artists.

To date, the team has compiled a master list of 643 artists. Gealt estimates they’ll identify another hundred or so more by the time the database goes live in spring 2019. Once launched, the “virtual museum” will be continually updated.

According to Hyperallergic’s Chernick, researchers are pulling from the collections of several thousand museums across the U.S. and Europe. In a recent call-to-action directed at European institutions, A Space of Their Own noted it was “particularly interested in works by women that are in your storages/deposits that cannot be seen.”

Some of the artists uncovered during this preliminary stage of research are relatively well-known, at least amongst art history buffs. One artist Chernick cites, the 16th-century Italian noblewoman and court painter Sofonisba Anguissola, is actually at the center of an upcoming exhibition at Madrid’s Prado Museum.

Others are more obscure: Take Anna Morandi Manzolini, an 18th-century Bolognese anatomist and sculptress who created eerily lifelike wax figures based on her study of the human body, or Isabella Catanea Parasole, a 17th-century Italian printmaker who crafted detailed engravings of swirling lace designs.

A Space of Their Own has ambitions of being more than a database. “It does not end with the database,” as AWA director Linda Falcone tells Chernick. “It begins with the database.”

Following the legacy that Fortune chartered, the initiative aims to open up the ouevre of these historic women artists to the general public and lead museums to reconsider the place of these artists in their collections. The proof is in the database, which Gealt tells Smithsonian.com demonstrates the “powerful way…. historic women artists have contributed to their visual culture against incredible odds.”

“Women’s history is not a given,” she continues on a serious note. “The fact that many of these women were famous in their own day and now are almost forgotten tells us a lot."

Three Women, Three Artists, Three Paths toward One Goal: To Keep Their Culture Alive

National Museum of the American Indian
To celebrate Women’s History Month and International Women’s Day, March 8, the National Museum of the American Indian hosted the public program Native Women Artists: Creativity & Continuity. Visitors had the opportunity to meet three unique Native women artists and...
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