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5 Female artists you should know about

When we talk about famous artists throughout history, the first person to come to your mind will most likely not be a woman. That’s why today we are sharing the life and artworks of 5 of the many female artists who made history and are worth knowing about.

Georgia O'Keeffe

Georgia O'Keeffe was a 20th century American iconic painter who is best known for her modernist and abstract paintings of flowers desert landscapes and skyscrapers. She was encouraged to study art by her mother and excelled in her classes at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. O'Keeffe’s painting style evolved over the years as she was discovering new ways to use colors and shapes and combining abstract and realistic styles. She was one of the very first American artists to produce a purely abstract work of art becoming one of the leading figures of the American modernist movement. Her paintings were bold, colourful, and represented what she felt about her subjects.

Artemisia Gentileschi

Artemisia Gentileschi was an Italian Baroque painter, now considered one of the most accomplished seventeenth-century artists. Like most female painters of her time, her father was also a painter and she trained from a young age in his studio. One of the most impactful events of her life was when she was raped by her painting instructor and was subject to torture during the trial. In 1616, she was the first woman to join Florence’s Academy of Design and she specialized and history paintings. Her style was heavily inspired by Caravaggio in using figures illuminated by bright lights against an intensly dark background in order to increase the dramatic effect.

Harriet Powers

Harriet Powers was an African-American slave, folk artist, and quilt maker from rural Georgia born in 1839. She spent her early like in a Madison County, Georgia, where it is believed she learned to sew from other slaves or from her mistress. Her two known artworks Bible Quilt 1886 and Pictorial Quilt 1898 consist of numerous pictorial squares depicting either biblical scenes or celestial phenomena. Thanks to a letter discovered in 2009, it was revealed that Powers was a literate woman, who transformed well-known stories she’d read herself into masterpieces.

Rosa Bonheur

Rosa, born Marie-Rosalie in 1822, Bonheur was a French painter raised in a family of talented and successful artists. Her father was a landscape and portrait painter, and her mother was a piano teacher. Rosa was recognised among her peers soon after she displayed her art at the salon when she was 19. She dedicated herself to studying anatomy and was able to achieve highly realistic paintings of animals and their environment. For a woman in the 19th century, she was quite a revolutionary by choosing to have a short haircut, wear men's clothing, engage in male-reserved activities such as hunting and smoking, and be openly lesbian by living with her partner for over 40 years.

Judith Leyster

Judith Leyster was a Dutch golden age painter born in 1609, her family name was taken from the brewery her father owned called “Leyster” (Polestar). Many of her compositions portrait happy figures engaged in domestic activity, playing music or, more often than not, drinking. Despite the success she achieved in her lifetime, she was soon forgotten after her death as many of her paintings were attributed to Frans Hals. It wasn’t until the 19th century when art historian Cornelis Hofstede de Groot revealed in an article that her initials were found underneath a faked signature of Hals, that her talent was truly acknowledged.

If you want to know about more female painters, follow us on instagram as we’ll be featuring each week of this month, a painting made by a woman.


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