Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Group 7 Presentation - Sonia Delaunay

Sonia Delaunay was born in Russia. Her name at birth was Sarah--Sonia is a Russian nickname. Before she was married to Robert Delaunay, she was married to a Parisian art dealer.

While Robert painted, Sonia supported him and she started applying colors, to design and made simultaneous fabric, clothing, furniture, environment, and cars.
She opened a boutique, went on to design rugs, tapestries, costumes, and sets for operas, ballets, and films.

She was the first living female artist to have a retrospective exhibition at the Louvre in 1964, and in 1975 was named an officer of the French Legion of Honor.


Her work in modern design included the concepts of geometric abstraction, the integration of furniture, fabrics, wall coverings, and clothing.



What interests Sonia about color is its ‘’movement’’ as the generator of the new space in modern painting.

To achieve this movement, she uses both complementary colors and clashing colors such as red and blue.




The theory of color that she developed with her husband, Robert Delaunay, Simultanism played an important role in her designs. She applied their ideas about color to design and made fabric, clothings, furniture and cars.

Sonia Delaunay’s work with textiles and embroidery, shows forms that are broken down and emphasizing the structure of the surface she was working on.

The simultaneous dresses she made were a reaction to the “drabness” of the fashion at the time.
“On her dress she wears her body.”  
     -Blaise Cendrar

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Gender, Sex and Power

Our knowledge about the roles of women in Europe in the middle ages includes one of the facts that the lives of most middle age women were organized around work.  Women were expected to take care of the home, the family and have no say in even issues of their own lives. The Father was head of the family. His wife and children respected him and obeyed him and all women’s property, even the money women earned belonged to their husband. Guerilla Girls notes that; women “could not receive commissions or legally own an atelier” (29). Women were relegated to unskilled activities in the guilds at an historical moment when the demand was growing for “designers” who could plan patterns.

      
 Although, women’s social roles remained strictly monitored under ecclesiastic control, their lives were shaped by economic and social forces outside such control. In this regard, Chadwick observes that, “women’s social roles remained circumscribed by a Christian ethic that stressed obedience and chastity” however the “physical rigors of medieval life encouraged women to take significant in the management of family property and in general economic life”. Thus in spite of the social barriers that existed to control the affairs of women, women still participated in all forms of works; from “masonry and building to manuscript illuminating and embroidery” (44). Here, Chadwick notes “the most remarkable visionary manuscripts of the tenth and eleventh centuries depict the Apocalyptic vision of St. John the Divine in the Book of Revelation” (46).Nevertheless, “noble birth” was also a determinant in women’s artistic and social life. Thus belonging to a wealthy family, to be working or to be single or luck was a strong factor in helping women played these roles responsibly.
As time went by, a tradition of educated and skilled women in religious orders persisted in fourteenth and fifteenth century and the roles of women changed, Chadwick states that Nuns “actively commissioned works for foundations, such as for example, the splendid polyptych ordered by the Benedictine nuns of San Pier Maggiore in Florence for their high altar” (67). By the 15th century in Bruges, Guerilla Girls notes for example, that 25 percent of the members of the illuminator’s guild were female”(19). There were many other women sculptors and artists too, and notably among them is the work found below; Sanccia Guidisvalvi, Spanish Processional Cross, 12 century Spanish Cross.


These roles influenced the lives of women artists and the subject of their work on many occasions. For example, among these outstanding women was Christine de Pizan who is noted as the first woman known to have made living as a writer in the middle ages.  At the time and setting of this, it was extremely difficult for anyone to have made it under the circumstances but Pizan rose against all odds and as Guerilla Girls explains, Christine de Pizan, in addition to the challenges of the day, was “widowed at twenty five with several children to support, a disapproving mother and no inheritance” as women were not allowed to. But she was not perturbed and went ahead through the challenges; the end results? Christine became “famous and influential during her life time and for centuries after” (23). Indeed it takes a brave and determined person to be able to achieve that status in history and so it went on to reflect in her works and she still wanted to prove the capabilities of fellow women. She contested men on several platforms and in one of her works, ”The City of Ladies (1405)” in Guerilla Girls, she crafted her arguments against the sexist scholars of her day, describing an “entire city populated by the bravest, strongest, most virtuous women from history” (26). Below is her work.
 

In it, three beautiful women personifying Reason, Rectitude and Justice describe how the city of ladies is to be built and which heroines from the Bible, would live there” (26). Indeed Pizan is an example to the artists of all generations. Thus, “The bricklayers” from The City of Ladies.
 
 
There were other women who rose to test the challenges of the day and proved beyond all doubt that they were women of purpose.  The city of bologna stood out from the rest of Europe in its attitude toward women. Women were admitted to its university beginning as early as the 13th century and were even permitted to lecture there. There was even a school for women artists founded by the painter Elisabetta Sirani. Elisabetta Sirani, another Bolognese artist, also rose against the tough times. She was so accomplished a painter that she was accused of signing work her father had done. To prove this the wags wrong, she began painting in public and eventually opened a school for women artists. Among the problems of discrimination, relegation and disrespect, there was jealousy, envy and hatred against successful women at the time. Society did not accord them as same as they did to men, so these women had to fight the norms of the day and earned their status.

Works Cited:
Women, Art, And Society. New York:Thames & Hudson Ltd, London, 2007. Print

The Guerrilla Girls' Bedside Companion to the History of Western Art. New York: Penguin, 1998. Print.

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:WLA_metmuseum_Processional_Cross_Spanish_Silver_6.jpg


http://www.google.com/search?q=spanish+processional+cross&hl=en&rlz=1R2GGHP_enUS488&prmd=imvns&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&sa=X&ei=E3N9UI7uMqmX0QHQ04DoDQ&ved=0CDEQsAQ&biw=1920&bih=842


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Book_of_the_City_of_Ladies

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/4/44/Meister_der_%27Cit%C3%A9_des_Dames%27_002.jpg

Gender Roles

   The roles of women in the Middle Ages solely revolved around the Church. The Church was not only  a system for contending with governing power it also helped maintain a form of morality.A role that all women were expected to do is to obey not only their fathers but all male members of the family. For those who did not obey such orders were beaten as disobedience was seen as a crime against religion.However. women did find ways around such unruly events," Despite biblical teachings against them, they became writers, artists,merchants, and nuns, and ran the kingdom when their husbands were away at war"(Guerrilla Girls 19)        

     As the Renaissance era approached, women were expanding their horizons by joining guilds, which were like unions helping them accomplish things that they couldn't do before.However, to join a guild their were some requirements such as coming from a family of artistic background. "“Their careers were made possible by birth into artist families and the training that accompanied it, or into the upper class where the spread of Renaissance ideas about the desirability of education opened new possibilities for women” ( Chadwick 76).The ideal example of a female artist from this era would be Sofonisba Anguissola, who at the age of fourteen was sent by her father to study art.Her father, Amilcare Anguissola was close friends with the now famous Michelangelo, who sent a painting from Sofonisba to Michelangelo opening a new window for female artists.  
Boy Pinched by a Crayfish
Sofonisba Anguissola
    
    As the time periods changed so did the influences that went into the art that they created. As in the middle ages art"...became a didactic tool of the church . The great cathedrals, built over centuries, presented Bible stories and doctrine to illiterate the masses" ( Guerrilla Girls 19).However, cathedrals and churches were not the only artistic achievement of that time, "...many other arts flourished: religious objects, illuminated manuscripts,and tapestries, to name a few" (Guerrilla Girls 19).The Bayeux tapestry from the Medieval time period, and it is an important piece that is 200 feet in length and depicts the conquest of England by the Norman king William the Conqueror.


Bayeux Tapestry
    During the Renaissance in Italy, "One of few ways a women could work as an artist was to be born into a family of artists that needed assistance in the family workshop." ( Guerrilla Girls 29). A great female artist from this era was Artemesia Gentileschi who was a teenage prodigy and worked at her fathers atelier, and by the age of 17 she had finished many paintings including " Susanna And the Elders".
   As time progressed the acceptance of women in the art world was decreasing. Making it harder for the female artist , and with such objectification that men have put on these women.

                                                                        Work Cited


Chadwick, Whitney. Women, Art, and Society. 3rd Edition. United Kingdom: Thames and Hudson Ltd., 1990.


Girls, Guerilla. The Guerilla Girls' Bedside Companion To The History of Western Art. England: Penguin Books., 1998 



Thursday, October 18, 2012

"For Most of History, Anonymous was a Woman" - Virginia Woolf

     Throughout time the perspective of women constantly changed. During the Middle Ages woman's pureness and chasity was the only way of life. With the Christian Church as dominant at this time the only options women had were to bear children or devote yourself to God. But as time continued women found ways around the social and physical restraints posed by the church and man. Many women found there way into the art scene by using the church becoming artistic nuns. Despite biblical teachings against the women of the Middle Ages during the 15th century in Bruges, Belgium porduced 25% female membership of illuminators guilds. Art became a strict subject in churches ever since. (Guerilla Girls 19)

     The Renaissance's women born into nobility such as Sofonisba Anguissola with the guidance of her father was aided by Michelangelo to achieve success in the art world. Anguissola painted several uniquely and astonishing self portrait, she was also brought to Spain to work with the Spanish court as Court Painter and also Lady In Waiting. Although Anguissola was restricted to selling her paintings she was the first woman painter to achieve fame and respect (Chadwick 79). Elisabetta Sirani's Portia Wounding Her Thigh (1664) spoke volumes of women wanting to be heard, respected and given that equal oppurtunity that men had received. Sirani works were too exceptional that her signature on a piece she made meant accusations of fruad.To redeem her name she began to paint in public.

    Thanks to Queen Victoria's reign during the 19th century a relief came for women in 1837. When women had a few rights, Victorian homes daily maintenance, motherhood, and managerial tasks were to much to handle throughout the day. Jobs as servants and governesses came into existence giving Middle and Upper class women a break they took on art which also made them (servants, governesses) the new subject of art.

    The 19th century Victorian England opened many doors to women in the art scene compared to the Middle Ages. By the 19th century women were experimenting with cameras, sculpting, quilts, and animals. Like Rosa Bonheur, her focus was with animals unlike the stereotypical women painters. The Horse Fair showed that she was still a women by using an elegant animal such as a horse to depict women and their struggle of being free to do as they please and the men being men putting a stop to anything unsufficient to them.

     In comparison from the 19th century to the Middle Ages Joan of Arc was a cross dresser whom led soldiers into battle and won while Rosa Bonheur had a permit from a doctor to dress in that manner. Women and slaves were illiterate and forbidden to be taught to paint while in the 19th century Edmonia Lewis was considered an exotic oddity because she was a mixed African American being capable of doing the artwork she has done.As time continues to grow so shall the women of life. http://www.undp.org/content/undp/en/home/ourwork/womenempowerment/overview.html

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

post 2




Women were expected to act a certain way but their roles where changing during the Middle Ages in Europe. In the past women were looked upon pretty much as a household item. They were supposed to stay home, take care of the children, clean up, cook and do other chores. Chadwick states, “Women’s social roles remained circumscribed by a Christian ethic that stressed obedience and chastity, by the demands of maternal and domestic responsibility” (Chadwick 44).  
During the beginning of the 19th century women were enjoying rights that they didn’t have before. “They could not vote, could not sue or be sued, could not testify in court, had extremely limited control over personal property after marriage, were rarely granted legal custody of their children in cases of divorce, and were barred from institutions of higher education”. However as society progressed the workplace of women began moving outside of the home. This gave women an opportunity to get involved in art; they also had a chance to communicate with other females.
Although women were getting more opportunities to be a part of society they still had certain restrictions. For example, they did not have the right to an education even if they wanted one. As stated in the Guerilla Girls, “Education was thought to interfere with a woman’s ability to be a good wife and mother. Almost no women were taught to read and write” (Guerilla Girls 22). As women slowly made their way into the world of art there were some men that supported them but there would also be other who still believed that they belonged in the house and nowhere else. As Chadwick states, "Women's virtues are chastity and motherhood: her domain is the private world of the family" (Chadwick 71).
During this time many women began taking part in needlepoint work. Women used quilting to tell a story and to aid with the abolition of slavery. There were two main types of quilts that were made: the biblical quilts or the pictorial quilts. Harriet Powers was one of the most influential artists in needlepointing. Many people liked her work in fact two well-known quilts are now still being displayed in museums. One of her pieces was entered in the Cotton States exposition by Jennie B. Smith, who was a white art teacher. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harriet_Powers


Another very well-known artist was Lilly Martin Spencer. She studied with James Beard, who was a successful painter, and she supported 13 children with her artwork. Spencer became a very popular painter of the 19th century.  Her first real successful painting was called Life’s Happy Hour and it was selected by the Western Art Union of engraving. She was different than other artists because her work was all positive and they showed endearing scenes of domesticity.


                                                            Works Cited

Chadwick, Whitney. Women, Art, and Society. New York, NY: Thames and Hudson, 2002.
The Guerrilla Girls' Bedside Companion to the History of Western Art. New York: Penguin, 1998. Print.

Gender roles, Sex, and Power

The Middle Ages was a time when women were given an insignificant amount of power in society. The sector of women who had some influence and position in society were those who were a part of the monasteries. Although the nuns were considered to be part of the upper class, they were suppressed by male dominance. It should be noted that, "within the convent women had access to learning even though they were prohibited from teaching by St. Paul's caution that a woman must be a learner, listening quietly, and with due submission. I do not permit a woman to be a teacher, nor must a woman domineer over a man; she should be quiet"(Chadwick 45). This was the prevailing attitude during the Middle Ages and was consequentially reflected in the artwork as well. 

The embroidery of the Bayeux Tapestry depicted military soldiers who served as actors throughout this piece of work. It has been said that the Bayeux Tapestry was the "most important monument of secular art of the middle ages" (Chadwick 48). At this point in time, embroidery was exclusively a female occupation. This particular scene of Aelfgya illustrates how under Feudalism, "the works structure and language displace women from power" (Chadwick 48). This is an accurate depiction of how women were situated outside any form of political power, and as nuns they were forced to follow the strict regulations of the clerical celibacy. There is also some amount of aggression present because the male soldier is physically restraining the woman and she is confined to her space.  Here is a link that explains in greater detail how the Feudal system was depicted in art. 















Alefgyva and the Cleric-Bayeux Tapestry 1085


Moving on to the Renaissance period, the focus shifted more towards "what a women could do" (Chadwick 87). One of the famous female artistes from this time period, Artemisia Gentileschi, had an unquestionable historical significance. In the painting of Susanna and the Elders, the woman in the painting has agency. She is acting, as opposed to merely appearing. More specifically the women is not being passive and available, instead she is resisting the actions of the elders. There is a drastic change here because now the women in art are avoiding the male gaze, an are not succumbing to male dominance. Susanna is not looking at the spectator/owner, instead she has a disturbed expression on her face and is avoiding any sort of interaction with the elders. While observing the elders, it is also clear that they have a role in this painting. From their expression it is clear that they are aware of their wrong-doings and they are conveying a message to the audience to remain silent.














Susanna and the Elders: Artemisia Gentileschi 1610


18th century artwork was focused on opposing male dominance. One of many famous painters
Angelica Kauffman was the "first women painter to "challenge the masculine monopoly" (Chadwick 158). Although she was persistent in her beliefs, there were several challenges that women were faced with during this time period. For example, "women were assigned to the domestic sphere and labeled as being inclined toward irrationality"(Chadwick 160). There were always attacks being made of the stature of women and women artists were in a disadvantage when it came to showcasing their artwork. However Kauffman's artwork of Zeuxis Selecting Models for His Picture of Helen of Troy was painted from neoclassical influence. Her artwork "suggests both an early awareness of what were then the most popular antique themes among english painters and a keen attentiveness to prevailing societal constructions of women and femininity" (Chadwick 154).Kauffman was ambitious to produce artwork that illustrated historical events on a large scale, and was strongly influenced by painters that surrender her










Zeuxis Selecting Models for his Picture of Helen of Troy: Angelica Kauffman 1764


One of the well known artists from the 19th century, Rosa Bonheur was an admired animal painter. Her work appealed to the middle class, and the significance of her work related to the constraints and rights of women. One of her works The Horse Fair, in 1855, was her main source of fame and recognition. Although this portrait is of horses, it implies a debate about rights that appealed mainly to women. This image also identifies the aspect of control, and dominance which are factors that women endured on a daily basis. It is important to realize that the "same images which expose helplessness of animals were used to reinforce the subordinate and powerless position of women in relation to the institutions of male power and privilege (Chadwick 195). This painting had a significant impact on women and their position in society. This particular piece of art symbolized the "unconventional woman." 






The Horse Fair: Rose Bonheur 1855


Overall, women were faced with multiple challenges over the centuries. Although they were given some amount of freedom, they were still contained by the males in society. Their plight is accurately depicted in their works of art as women are shown in various roles. From the middle ages through the 19th century women roles change from being strictly religious to having some freedom of expression. This societal change was also depicted in their artwork. Women artists began painting women without men, or of women doing something besides domestic work. Women began to express themselves through art and were causing awareness to society that they should be considered just as talented and just as able to be successful with their work. 



Works Cited
Chadwick, Whitney. Women, Art, and Society. 3rd ed. New York, NY: Thames and Hudson, 2002. Print.

Post 2 -- Women's Social Status Deteriorating Over Time


               From the middle ages all the way until the nineteenth century, women were primarily seen as inferior to men. Women were barred from the public scene. They were objectified, and were made to serve men. All in all, women were to be put in the household with a man, because their lack of skills held no place in public areas such as commerce or work. As time moved forward, women were put in stricter gender roles, and pushed away from the public sphere.

Fifth vision of Scivias,
by Hildegard Von
Bingen
                In the middle ages, the Christian church was the dominant force in society. The church organized “communication and culture, as well as religion and education” (Chadwick 43). In educating its citizens, the church propagated the “natural inferiority of women” (Chadwick 44); women were expected to either marry a man, devoting her entire life to her family (e.g. procreating), or to devote her life to God in a convent. In the former, men became the caretakers of women; men would go into the public world to work and provide for the family, whereas women had no basic rights, unless the husband was away at war (in which case women were granted some “economic power”) (Chadwick 47). In the latter, however, women were free from male subservience, and allowed many rights not available to women who decided to marry; she could farm, operate businesses, compose and perform music, and be educated. Because of the widely held belief that women were inferior, women had to turn to mysticism instead of the intellectual life. Hildegard von Bingen, a female artist from Germany, made many illuminated transcripts. She turned to mysticism, and appealed to the church as a “passive vessel” that God was acting through (Chadwick 59).Important to note about the middle ages is that all art was commissioned by the church; as such, the artwork made was not only very religious, but names were not necessarily attached to the artwork. An example of this is The Beatus Apocalypse of Gerona, which was worked by both male and female monasteries. In this regard, men were “as forgotten as the females” (Guerrila Girls 20).

Giovanna Tornabuoni nee Albizzi

by  Domenico Ghirlandaio
                In the Renaissance, the Church’s power over societies started to wane as countries became secularized, mercantile, interested in making money, and showing off their wealth. Aristocrats became the primary source of demand for artwork, and at the beginning of the Renaissance, guilds started becoming central to the public sphere in Southern Europe because of the higher demand. These guilds allowed women to join with full rights and privileges (Chadwick 68-69). However, by the end of the Renaissance, not one woman was found to be in a guild; in Southern Europe, men began removing women as professionals from the public sphere completely. Although convents still existed, and allowed for female artistry, women were assigned roles that required less skill. For example, in Florence, a demand for silk and wool caused many citizens to work in the prospective industry; however, no women were known to work in the silk industry because it was considered a highly-skilled job. The public sphere started to become a primary space for “aesthetics”; art and women were both objectified by the male “gaze” (Chadwick 74). Domenico Ghirlandaio shows this quality of men in her painting, Giovanna Tornabuoni nee Albizzi; the woman is shown to be just a d├ęcor along with the background, his initial branded on her as his. Sofinisba Anguissola also shows this quality when painting a man painting herself (Bernadino Campi Painting Sofonisba Anguissola); she not only shows that she is aware of her position as being objectified, but that it is also widely practiced (Chadwick 78). However, women artists retaliated against the condescension experienced from males by showing female activeness. Elisabetta Sirani and Artemisia Gentileschi worked to show women as equals to men; Portia Wounding Her Thigh by Sirani shows that, regardless of the sexual nature associated with women, Portia can show that she has a strong character – she is virtuous, and is worthy of trust (Chadwick 101).  Gentileschi offers Judith Decapitating Holofenes as the women being active, unafraid, and knowing what they are doing. They are not dumb inferior creatures, as men would judge them to be; they are strong and capable. However, in all of Europe, the mass female exclusion from public sphere was still prominent.
Judith Decapitating Holofenes
Artemisia Gentileschi
 
 
                In the 17th and 18th century, women were still being moved to the private sphere. For example, one of the prerequisites of being an artist in Southern Europe was to be able to paint the male nude, which females were forbidden to do; in short, females were unable to compete with men in this regard.  In France, female-hosted salons were attacked because of the roles women were playing in the public sphere. As women were moved out of the public sphere, they were encouraged to reside and do all work in the private sphere. Female needlework and embroideries was seen as “natural” to women (Chadwick 148). Similarly, paintings from the period portrayed women at home. Elisabeth Vigee-Le Brun and Angelica Kauffmann were two very rare exceptions. Brun lived in a convent when she was young, and thus had the ability to learn and practice art; she was later commissioned by the French Royal Family, and painted Marie Antoinette. Angelica Kauffmann, however, had the luck to have a father as an artist, and who supported her fully; she was able to get connections and her success was mainly attributed to her "association[s]" (Chadwick 156). With the support of male artists, she was able to take on the grander themes of heroism and neoclassicism, which was dominated by men. In the North (Netherlands), female paintings of the private sphere, such as worldly possessions, were in demand. In contrast from the South, the North believed wealth was shown from the private sphere, not the public sphere, and so women artists willingly moved into the private sphere. There, artworks like Still Life and Flowers in a Vase were produced. Although Northern appreciation for the private sphere meant women and their artwork were more appreciated in the North, it also signified the same transition the South was undergoing (a movement towards the private sphere).
The Seamstress by Anna Blunden
Nameless and Friendless by Emily Mary Osbourn

















                Finally, in the 19th century, women were becoming even more objectified, and it became more difficult for women to be involved in the public sphere. Men started to obsess over the female nudes, for example, "like never before" (Guerrila Girls 47). Women who were employed worked at home. Going into the public without a man as a female was dangerous because of male objectification. This is shown in Nameless and Friendless by Emily Mary osbourn; a man even turns away from a female nude painting just to stare at the woman. "The woman artist is merely ridiculous, but I am in favor of the female singer and dancer," say Renoir of female artists; women are objects of desire. Female artists who were successful, such as Mary Cassat, were successful because of their circumstances: Cassat was born into a wealthy family who supported her completely; she met Degas and corresponded with him; she became accepted into the male Impressionist group; and she became successful because of her male colleagues. Success for women amounted to luck and chance, as opposed to skill and ambition.

                Throughout the past few centuries, women were able to be accepted into the art world less and less, and they were pushed into the private sphere more and more. Men become harsher critics of women art (at least until recently), and would objectify women. This became more prominent with time; the social condition for women deteriorated as time went on.

Works Cited

Chadwick, Whitney. Women, Art, and Society. Fourth Edition. London: Thames and Hudson Ltd., 2007. Print.

The Guerilla Girls. The Guerilla Girls' Bedside Companion To The History of Western Art. England: Penguin Books, 1998. Print.


Gender Roles, Sex, Power

Our knowledge about the roles of women in Europe in the middle ages includes one of the facts that the lives of most middle age women were organized around work. Women were expected to take care of the home, the family and have no say in even issues of their own lives. The Father was head of the family. His wife and children respected him and obeyed him and all women’s property, even the money women earned belonged to their husband. Guerilla Girls notes that; women “could not receive commissions or legally own an atelier” (29). Women were relegated to unskilled activities in the guilds at an historical moment when the demand was growing for “designers” who could plan patterns. Although, women’s social roles remained strictly monitored under ecclesiastic control, their lives were shaped by economic and social forces outside such control. In this regard, Chadwick observes that, “women’s social roles remained circumscribed by a Christian ethic that stressed obedience and chastity” however the “physical rigors of medieval life encouraged women to take significant in the management of family property and in general economic life”. Thus in spite of the social barriers that existed to control the affairs of women, women still participated in all forms of works; from “masonry and building to manuscript illuminating and embroidery” (44). Here, Chadwick notes “the most remarkable visionary manuscripts of the tenth and eleventh centuries depict the Apocalyptic vision of St. John the Divine in the Book of Revelation” (46).Nevertheless, “noble birth” was also a determinant in women’s artistic and social life. Thus belonging to a wealthy family, to be working or to be single or luck was a strong factor in helping women played these roles responsibly. As time went by, a tradition of educated and skilled women in religious orders persisted in fourteenth and fifteenth century and the roles of women changed, Chadwick states that Nuns “actively commissioned works for foundations, such as for example, the splendid polyptych ordered by the Benedictine nuns of San Pier Maggiore in Florence for their high altar” (67). By the 15th century in Bruges, Guerilla Girls notes for example, that 25 percent of the members of the illuminator’s guild were female”(19). There were many other women sculptors and artists too, and notably among them is the work found below; Sanccia Guidisvalvi, Spanish Processional Cross, 12 century Spanish Cross.
These roles influenced the lives of women artists and the subject of their work on many occasions. For example, among these outstanding women was Christine de Pizan who is noted as the first woman known to have made living as a writer in the middle ages. At the time and setting of this, it was extremely difficult for anyone to have made it under the circumstances but Pizan rose against all odds and as Guerilla Girls explains, Christine de Pizan, in addition to the challenges of the day, was “widowed at twenty five with several children to support, a disapproving mother and no inheritance” as women were not allowed to. But she was not perturbed and went ahead through the challenges; the end results? Christine became “famous and influential during her life time and for centuries after” (23). Indeed it takes a brave and determined person to be able to achieve that status in history and so it went on to reflect in her works and she still wanted to prove the capabilities of fellow women. She contested men on several platforms and in one of her works, ”The City of Ladies (1405)” in Guerilla Girls, she crafted her arguments against the sexist scholars of her day, describing an “entire city populated by the bravest, strongest, most virtuous women from history” (26). Below is her work.
In it, three beautiful women personifying Reason, Rectitude and Justice describe how the city of ladies is to be built and which heroines from the Bible, would live there” (26). Indeed Pizan is an example to the artists of all generations. Thus, “The bricklayers” from The City of Ladies. There were other women who rose to test the challenges of the day and proved beyond all doubt that they were women of purpose. The city of bologna stood out from the rest of Europe in its attitude toward women. Women were admitted to its university beginning as early as the 13th century and were even permitted to lecture there. There was even a school for women artists founded by the painter Elisabetta Sirani. Elisabetta Sirani, another Bolognese artist, also rose against the tough times. She was so accomplished a painter that she was accused of signing work her father had done. To prove this the wags wrong, she began painting in public and eventually opened a school for women artists. Among the problems of discrimination, relegation and disrespect, there was jealousy, envy and hatred against successful women at the time. Society did not accord them as same as they did to men, so these women had to fight the norms of the day and earned their status. Works Cited: Women, Art, And Society. New York:Thames & Hudson Ltd, London, 2007. Print The Guerrilla Girls' Bedside Companion to the History of Western Art. New York: Penguin, 1998. Print. http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:WLA_metmuseum_Processional_Cross_Spanish_Silver_6.jpg http://www.google.com/search?q=spanish+processional+cross&hl=en&rlz=1R2GGHP_enUS488&prmd=imvns&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&sa=X&ei=E3N9UI7uMqmX0QHQ04DoDQ&ved=0CDEQsAQ&biw=1920&bih=842 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Book_of_the_City_of_Ladies http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/4/44/Meister_der_%27Cit%C3%A9_des_Dames%27_002.jpg

Gender Roles, Sex, Power

   The expected roles of women in Europe in the middle ages were to take care of the men and the home. As stated in Women, Art, and Society, during this time most women were restricted to the home and economically dependent on fathers, husbands, brothers, or sovereigns. (Chadwick, 44) Throughout history we do have the pleasure of seeing many changes in women's roles, within society, the church, and most importantly within the art world.
   The Middle Ages in Europe was a time in which the church was in power. The church was essential to life, it was central in this time. A hierarchy was in place which meant if you are born into peasant class that is where you die. During this time, in order for women to learn had to become apart of the clergy. An escape from being a wife or mother was to become a nun, a nun could do so many things women at home could not. Therefore, only nuns were able to learn, and though at the time it was rare they did learn from one another, as they were separated from male clergy. “They operated businesses, farmed, made tapestries, copied and illustrated manuscripts, composed and performed music.” (Guerrilla Girls, 22) One women whom expressed herself through art, and was credited as a “prophetic voice” was Hildegard of Bingen. She had beautiful paintings, hymns, books and even a play. “Her visions encompass much of the scientific and religious knowledge of her time and she has the distinctions of being the only woman who has a volume of the Church “fathers” official Patriologia Latina devoted entirely to her works.” (Chadwick,59) Hildegard was referred to as a vessel of God, insinuating her talent was given to her from God, her art it was not of her own vision but one from God, so this made it was then acceptable for her to display manuscripts and paintings.

   As feudalism declined and mercantilism started taking over, the Renaissance began. Art history's conception of the Renaissance was, a historically, geographically and culturally unique period which is based on the lives and achievements of men. Contributions of art by women do not fit into this period neatly. “In most cities, women were barred from painters’ guilds or academies (except for lace and silkmakers’ guilds).” (Guerrilla Girls, 29) Guerrilla Girls also goes on to state if women were not born into a family with artist whom required assistance in the workshop they were not otherwise allowed in the workshops. One exception to the restrictions women faced was Sofonisba Anguissola."..a noble whose father believed women should be educated." (Guerrilla Girls, 29) 


   One of my favorite artist of the time was Armenia Gentileschi. She faced many obstacles, she was raped and faced much criticism  but it did not stop her from doing what she loved. "She somehow was able to set up her own atelier, learned to read and was the first female member admitted to the Accademia Del Disegno." (Guerrilla Girls, 37) She is an example that you can achieve whatever you want, she was prominent and her paintings were boisterous, but she was able to put all her feelings into her paintings and the outcome was incredible. 
   In the 17th and 18th century not much changed. However,  women were painting more, but at the time they faced restrictions as to the subjects of there paintings. "While the male academics were off painting the "important" subjects of war and the gods, most women artists of the 17th and 18th centuries kept the home fires burning, perfecting the areas where they were allowed to excel: still life and portraiture." (Guerrilla Girls, 40) Some women however, "beat the guys at their own game" as Guerrilla Girls stated.One in particular is a women named Angelica Kauffmann. She,  a long with other artist were apart of the change which was occurring. "..are inextricably bound up in the changing ideologies of representation and sexual difference that accompany the shift from a courtly aristocratic culture to that of prosperous middle-class capitalist society." (Chadwick, 139) Angelica Kauffmann was selling her work and was able to buy her own home, she was free to do many paintings.  I am not sure if this is just luck on Angelica Kauffmans' behave or if this is the true sign of times changing, because she was prominent and owned her own home by profiting from her work,but other women were still trapped in there homes and families. 


   The 19th century was interesting, slavery in the United States had been abolished, there was progression in transportation services, but the struggle for gender equality continued. The Freed Women and Forever Free sculptors by Edmonia Lewis were sculptors which expressed the emancipation of slaves " All persons held as slaves... are, and henceforward shall be, free." (Chadwick, 225)  
   With the advances in technology so many women were able to travel and move out of the U.S for studying purposes. Colleges for women were available in London at this time. So with the schools and advances in technology many women were able to leave the U.S and study in a place were they were more socially accepted.  Towards the late 1870s, women were drawn to Impressionism. "Some women were drawn to Impressionism precisely because the new painting legitimized the subject matter of domestic social life of which women had intimate knowledge, even as they were excluded from imagery of the bourgeois social sphere of the boulevard, cafe, and dance hall." (Chadwick, 232) This marks a change but it did come with lots of criticism. 
    Mary Cassatt, an Impressionist, whom "fled the U.S to escape the resistance to both women artists and new ideas about painting." (Guerilla Girls, 56) Was an exceptional artist.Though at the time many restrictions were set on women artist. Cassatt was one which had friendly relationships with men artist which in turn helped her receive the recognition she deserved, or rather permitted her to receive the recognition she deserved. The man whom  "permitted" her to to display her work was a man by the name Edgard Degas. More on Degas and Cassatt relationship,Cassatt and Degas Meet At this time SOME men were more accepting of the women artist while others believed women still belonged at home. Those men whom accepted the women artist, however, still had there reservation. when a positive critique at the time was that it might be easily mistaken for a man’s.
   Through out these different eras, we do see a change within women's roles within society. Though it was not a major change because women were still looked down upon during the 19th century. There was a transition that helped women become free of these roles they felt they had to fulfill. It began with taking care of the homes, the children, and husbands. By the 19th Century we have women displaying there art and becoming Impressionist. We still till this day live in a patriarchal society, and as women we will continue the battle,  to one day be truly equal to men. Though in my opinion,  we will never be equal to men we will always be greater. After, studying the oppression of women and all the restrictions they faced, I wonder were men just trying to control women, or were they fearing the fact that a women could possible be more successful and ultimately a better artist then a man.

 References: 
Chadwick, Whitney. Women, Art, and Society. 3rd Edition. United Kingdom: Thames and Hudson Ltd., 1990.
Girls, Guerilla. The Guerilla Girls' Bedside Companion To The History of Western Art. England: Penguin Books., 1998 








"I have no patience for women who ask permission to think." -Rosa Bonheur


During the dark period of the middle ages, women in Europe were expected to fall into line and "were the virtual prisoners of the men in their lives." (Guerrilla Girls 19)  While it seemed like women were not respected, they played an essential role during everyday life.  The roles changed for women through the Renaissance and into the 19th century, while they eventually had more rights and freedoms, they were still bounded to play society's roles.

Elisabetta Sirani, Portia Wounding her Thigh, 1664
The period of enlightenment, also known as the Renaissance period, wasn't so great for women during that time.  "They were barred from painters' guilds or academies (except for the lace and silkmakers' guilds).  They couldn't receive commissions or legally own an atelier." (Guerrilla girls 29)  To bypass that, women who wanted to work as an artist had to be born into a family of artists, like Artemisia Gentileschi, who would support them and their work.  Elisabetta Sirani, was such a great artist that she was accused of signing her name to works that were made by her father.

In retaliation, she painted en plein air; painting outdoors so people could see her paint in public.  She also eventually opened up a school for women artists. (Guerrilla Girls, 30)

Art during the middle ages was an essential tool for the church at that time.  While most people were illiterate, people could understand the stories through illustrations.  As stated by the Guerrilla girls, "Many of these artists were women, either working in businesses owned by male family members or living as nuns in convents." (Guerrilla Girls 19)

Alice Barber Stephens, The Female Life Class 1879
Some of the challenges women faced were being able to attend academies but not being able to draw from the nude male figure, which hindered women from figure drawing.  Instead, some women opted to hone their skills in portraiture, like Elisabeth Vigee-LeBrun, or flower paintings, like Rachel Ruysch.  In some special cases, Angelica Kauffman, who belonged to the English Royal Academy, learned to draw nude male figures from plaster casts.  In the Netherlands, historical subjects weren't as popular as depictions of everyday life, which boded well for women because it allowed more women to become artists. (Guerrilla Girls 40)


Anna Maria Sybilla Merian, Metamorphosis Insectorum Surinamensis, Plate XI.
Anna Maria Sybilla Merian, took life painting to a whole different level.  Her keen observation and drawing skills, assisted man botanical and zoological studies, and paved the way for the scientific classification of species. (Guerrilla Girls 41)  Her botanical illustrations were the first of their kind and were complied into the book, Metamorphosis Insectorum Surinamensium.


Rosa Bonheur, Plowing in the Nivernais, 1848
During the 19th century, began the women's long stuggle for equality. (Guerilla Girls 47)  One of the most well known female paintings during this time is Rosa Bonheur.  Her subjects were mostly farm animals, like cows, horses and bulls.  Bonheur's emphasis on painting the subjects of animal freedom and untainted nature, juxtaposed society's inferior views on women, shows the dominance that men have over women. With the support of her father, who was a member of the Saint Simonian group had their own "radical" ideas about women; cross dressing and ambiguity of public gender identity, helped Rosa flourish into who she was. (Chadwick 193)



Works Cited

Chadwick, Whitney. Women, Art, and Society. New York, NY: Thames and Hudson, 2002.

The Guerrilla Girls' Bedside Companion to the History of Western Art. New York: Penguin, 1998. Print.