Famous Female Artists  

Over the ages, it has been an arduous task for women to gain prominence in the artistic field. In the Western World, the medieval era was referred to as the best period for female artists. Female artists have produced considerably valuable work over generations which have often been overshadowed by the dominating male artists in the arena.

However, in the 20th century, historians finally decided to give the gender its due by highlighting the accomplishments of many outstanding female artists. 

The creative aptitude of women can be traced back to the pre-historic times, when women were the chief artisans. Records furnished by Homer, Cicero and Virgil indicate the standing of women in the artistic world. The name list of Greek women as painters comprises of Timarete, Eirene, Kalypso, Aristarete, Iaia and Olympias. Unfortunately their work has not been acknowledged, and faded away over the decades.

With the ushering in of the Renaissance period, many women artists got the opportunity to flaunt their aesthetic skills. Quite a few got trained under their fathers, and produced beautiful work depicting religious and family themes. However, some Flemish and Dutch women gained fame in making portraits and still life pictures as well.

Properzia de Rozzi was an Italian sculptor and miniaturist who received training from Marcantonio Raimondi, Raphael's engraver. Levina Teerling obtained fame as a miniature portrait artist in the English court. Unfortunately, all her work is lost today due to lack of proper preservation.

Catarina van Hemessen belonged to Antwerp, and specialized in religious paintings and portraits. The sisters Sofonisba and Lucia Anquissola hailed from a noble family and displayed talent with a touch of humanism in their work. The only work that survived was Lucia Anquissola’s painting, ‘Dr. Pietro Maria’. Diana Mantuana, an engraver, was one of the few artists of her time who gained the permission to install her name on plates.

Lavinia Fontana, the daughter of the artist Prospero Fontana and the wife of painter Zappi, earned a name for herself despite being a very busy mother to eleven children.

Being the official painter of the papal court, her work was immensely appreciated and in great demand. She focused on religious and mythological themes. Giovanna Garzoni stands out for being one of the first women to paint still life. She is known to have worked in the court of the Duke of Alcala and Duke of Savoy.

Today, there is a long list of contemporary female artists like Rachel Whiteread. Turner’s Prize of Tate Gallery was awarded to her for the first time in 1993. Other eminent female artists following her footsteps were Gillian Wearing and Tomma Abts

The book entitled '‘Women Artists at the Millennium' published in 2006 highlights names of several distinguished female artists such as Louise Bourgeois, Yvonne Rainer, Bracha Ettinger, Sally Mann, Eva Hesse, Rachel Whiteread and Rosemarie Trockel.

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Famous Female Artists




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