Course overview

This course focuses on the lives and careers of women artists from the Renaissance to modern art in Europe and Northern America. Starting with painters like Sister Plautilla Nelli and Sofonisba Anguissola in Italy, we will explore a variety of contexts as we move across time and space. We will study Dutch and French painters and sculptors, as well as Russian, German, Finnish, and American ones. For each, we will consider issues of training, exhibiting and selling, and will see how social norms impacted these artists’ path to success and lasting. There will be two outings, to Tate Britain and Tate Modern (location tbc), on 14th of May, and 25th of June.

Course description

Artists, patrons, critics, and collectors: throughout the centuries, women have always played an active role in the making of art. They are, however, lesser known than their male counterparts, and their works of art have usually sold for less on the art market. This course will address this difference in an attempt to raise the profile of women artists.

We will start with Sister Plautilla Nelli and Sofonisba Anguissola during the Italian Renaissance. In the 17th century, we will study the examples of Judith Leyster in the Netherlands, and Artemisia Gentileschi in Italy. With the immensely successful Rachel Ruysch, we will reflect upon the role of women in the development of a genre sometimes assigned to them: the painting of flowers. As we move into the 18th century, we will see how women were included and excluded from the developing Academies of Fine Arts. We will look at the examples of London and Paris in particular, with artists such as Angelica Kauffman and Elisabeth Vigée Le Brun. The century that follows is an exciting one, with many social changes for women, symbolised by the concept of “the new woman”, in other word, the rise of career women. In the arts, we will see that the number of professional women grew exponentially, both in academic ranks (Harriett Hosmer, Rosa Bonheur) and in avant-gardist ranks (Morisot, Cassatt, and Claudel). Finally, we will consider some key women artists in the development of early 20th century modern art, from Sonia Delaunay and Hannah Höch, to Georgia O’Keeffe.

This chronological progression will be punctuated with thematic discussions on the role of female patrons, such as Isabella d’Este and Marie de Medici, as well as Peggy Guggenheim, and on the role of feminist art historians such as Linda Nochlin.

What financial support is available?

We don't want anything to stand in your way when it comes to bringing Adult learning within reach so if you need anything to support you to achieve your goals then speak to one of our education experts during your enrolment journey. Most of our courses are government funded but if you don't qualify or need alternative financial help to access them then let us know.

What other support is available?

All of our digital content, teaching and learning activities and assessments are designed to be accessible so if you need any additional support you can discuss this with the education experts during your enrolment journey and we will do all we can to make sure you have optimal access.

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