Women Artists

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Women artists have been the subject of varying degrees of critical attention and neglect throughout history; as recently as the mid-20th century they have been the subject of outright derision in and exclusion from seminal art historical texts. A number of women artists, especially those who were members of artist families, received training and recognition in the Renaissance, though painter Artemisia Gentileschi was the first to receive notable recognition during her life, joining the Italian Academy in 1616. The French Academy, one of the most influential and elite art institutions in Europe, limited female membership to four artists, a practice whose end was successfully petitioned in 1790 by Rococo painter Adélaïde Labille-Guiard, contemporary with Marie Antoinette’s preferred portraitist, Louise Élisabeth Vigée Le Brun. Swiss-born Neoclassicist Angelica Kauffman was a founding member of the British Royal Academy in 1768, although no other women were elected until 1922. Women have continued the struggle for recognition in modern and contemporary art spheres, to such an extent that feminist collective Guerilla Girls asked in 1989, “Do women have to be naked to get into the Met[ropolitan] Museum?”

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