Home Art History A History of Women in Europe, 1400-1800 Now Open At The Baltimore Museum of Art

A History of Women in Europe, 1400-1800 Now Open At The Baltimore Museum of Art

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For centuries, art historians have accepted the characterization of pre-modern European women artists as rare and relatively less talented than their male counterparts. This assumption is now being challenged by ground-breaking exhibitions that offer a more accurate and comprehensive look at women’s creative achievements. Leaving Her Name: A History of European Women Artists, 1400-1800.

Self-portrait of Sarah Biffin, 1842, watercolor and opaque watercolor on paper.
Sarah Biffin (British, 1784-1850) was born with phocomelia. That is, she was “born without arms and legs,” as stated in her baptismal record. She taught herself how to use her mouth to write professionally, sew, and paint, and advertised her talents and physical condition in circulated posters and flyers, presenting herself as a skilled artist. She described herself as not only a homemaker but also a talented businesswoman.

From royal portraits and devotional sculptures to embroidery, tapestries, costumes, wax figures, metalwork, ceramics, graphic art, furniture and more, Making Her Mark features a wide range of objects from the 15th to the 18th century. Over 200 works of art and scale are on display, reflecting a wide range of work. The multifaceted and often overlooked ways in which women contributed to European visual arts.

Artemisia Gentileschi Judith and her maid with the head of Holofernes, circa 1960 1623–1625 Oil on canvas.
One of the most famous female painters of the 17th century, Artemisia Gentileschi (Italian, 1593-after 1654) was known for her ability to use shadow, color, and light to convey intense drama. In her depiction of the Biblical story of the Jewish heroine Judith beheading Holofernes, the violent beheading is obscured by the deep shadow cast by the flame of a single candle.

A team of female curators led by Andaleeb Badi Banta, Senior Curator and Head of Prints, Drawings and Photography. baltimore art museumAlexa Greist, curator and head of R. Fraser Elliott Prints and Drawings at the Art Gallery of Ontario, spent four years researching collections across the United States, Canada, and Europe, and discovered an astonishing number of works by women artists. I researched the work.

Maria Sibylla Merian Bindweed and Convolvulus Metamorphosis, c. 1670–1683 Watercolor on vellum with touches of opaque watercolor over black chalk or graphite.
Maria Sibylla Merian (German, 1647-1717) was a major botanical artist who innovatively depicted insects and broader ecological dynamics located within their habitats. Through her narrative illustrations of insects and plants as intertwined phenomena, she constructed an image of the life cycle that became a standard in shaping scientific illustration and entomology.

The visit was named a “must-see” exhibition by Vogue and a “surely historic show” by the New York Times. artbma.org/mhm For tickets.

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