A Celebration of 400 Years of Women Artists

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A Celebration of 400 Years of Women Artists

<p>In every century there have been outstanding Women artists who have achieved a reputation that has sat well-earned, alongside their male colleagues. Often their life stories are remarkable in


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In every century there have been outstanding Women artists who have achieved a reputation that has sat well-earned, alongside their male colleagues. Often their life stories are remarkable in themselves and give us a glimpse into social histories of their age. In this 5 week course we will look over the last 400 years, and will consider Artemisia Gentileschi, Rachel Ruysch, Angelica Kauffman, Elisabeth Vigee Le Brun, Berthe Morisot, Mary Cassatt, Grace Cossington Smith, Hilda Rix Nicolas and others. We will also look at who are the recognised women in art in the 21st century so far.

  • 17th Century
    • Artemisia Gentileschi ( 1593-1653): Artemisia Gentileschi was an early Italian Baroque painter, and the only female follower of Caravaggio, whom she worked with in Italy in the early 17th century. In Florence, she earned the patronage of the Medici duke, Cosimo II. In 2018, The National Gallery in London acquired a self-portrait by her, which they are currently restoring. It represents only the 20th work by a female artists to enter their collection of 2300 European paintings.
    • Rachel Ruysch (1664-1750): Rachel Ruysch was a Dutch painter of the 17th century who focused on still- life Flower painting. At 15 she was apprenticed to the well-known Dutch flower painter Willem van Aelst. She was born into a famous painting family and her father was an imminent University professor and scholarly collector of naturalia. She was invited to be court painter to Johann Wilhelm, the Elector Palatine of Bavaria, and although delivered to him regular paintings, also raised her ten children.
  • 18th Century
    • Angelica Kauffman (1741-1807): Angelica Kauffman was a Swiss painter, trained in Italy who worked in Rome and in London. She was a Founding Member of the Royal Academy of Arts in London and was a sought-after portrait artist and also a history painter.
    • Elisabeth Vigee Le Brun (1755-1842): Elisabeth Vigee Le Brun was a French painter, closely associated with French royalty. Due to her patron, Marie Antoinette who she painted many times, she had to flee France during the French Revolution. She then painted in Naples, Russia, Austria and Prussia before returning to France in 1802 under Emperor Napoleon I. She painted wonderful images of children, including many princes and princesses as well as her own daughter Julie.
  • 19th Century
    • Berthe Morisot (1841 – 1895): French Impressionist painter, Berthe Morisot was the granddaughter of French Rococo painter Jean-Honore Fragonard, and part of the Impressionist artist group. She married into the Manet family of artists and often painted members of her own family. Although said not to be commercially successful in her own lifetime, she outsold Monet, Renoir and Sisley.
    • Mary Cassatt (1844-1926): Mary Cassatt was one of the “Americans in Paris” and was the only women to exhibit with the Impressionists. A friend of Edgar Degas, she remains much loved for her beautiful quiet paintings of women and children. The Musée Jacquemart-André held a retrospective of her work in Paris in 2018.
  • 20th Century
    • Grace Cossington Smith: Grace Cossington Smith was a much loved Australian 20th century artist who first had a solo exhibition in 1928 and whose works are held in every major Australian gallery. Her work is in the post-impressionist style and she was influenced by van Gogh and Cezanne. Her work records some of the big moments such as references to WWI & WWII, of Sydney’s history such as the building of the Harbour Bridge, the 1920 visit by the Prince of Wales, as well as domestic scenes.
    • Hilda Rix Nicolas: Born in Ballarat, Hilda Rix Nicholas trained under Frederick McCubbin before departing for Paris where her work was exhibited in the Salon in 1911. She travelled and painted in France, Spain and Morocco. After series of family tragedies, she returned to Australia, however painted and traveled back to Europe until settling in NSW in 1928. Her subjects matter is wide-ranging. In 2013, the National Portrait Gallery in Canberra held a retrospective exhibition of her work.
  • 21st Century
    • This week we will explore a number of contemporary Australian and overseas artists, working in paintings but also in other mediums. The class is invited to make their own contributions to the discussion as we explore who we may think is significant to the discussion of artistic contribution today.

By the end of this course, students should be able to:

  1. Have an enhanced awareness of the key women artists of the 16th to 21st centuries.
  2. Be able to recognise the names and painting styles of significant women artists over this 400 years.
  3. Have an understanding of the social & historical influences on the artists that informed their practice.
  4. To identify and provide some self- analysis to the paintings and styles.