Historical Portraiture: Women Portraits & Portraitists
(also see Artemisia, Cecilia Beaux, Mary Cassett, Gwen John, Vigée Le Brun, Berthe Morisot)
Laura Knight: Portraits by Rose Bradley – Paperback: 128 pages; National Portrait Gallery (Aug 31, 2014)

Laura Knight (1877-1970) was one of the leading British painters of the twentieth century. However, her rejection of modernism and her association with the mainstream led to a decline in her reputation, and since her death she has fallen into obscurity. This long-overdue reappraisal of a pioneering female artist features over 35 of her finest works from across her long and prolific career, demonstrating both the variety of her subjects and her consummate skills as an artist. During the course of an extraordinarily productive career that spanned over 70 years, Knight's work reflected her commitment to depicting modern life and her fascination with the human figure, as asserted in her iconic "Self Portrait" (1913). This book demonstrates Knight's impressive skills as a painter and draftsman and her compassionate approach to the sitters with whom she worked, while also presenting a distinctive picture of twentieth-century Britain.

Eva Gonzales Catalogues Raisonnes (French Edition) by Marie-Caroline Sainsaulieu and Jacques de Mons – Hardcover: 360 pages; La Bibliotheque des Arts (FR) (Oct 15, 1998)

Hilda Rix Nicholas: Her Life and Art by John Pigot – Hardcover: 112 pages; Melbourne University Publishing (May 1, 2000)

Hilda Rix Nicholas was the fortunate daughter of a mother who was an active amateur artist and a father who was a dedicated teacher. She had a sister, and no brothers to divert parental attention. Most importantly she was part of that glorious generation of early 20th century women artists. These were the daughters of the first women to be given some kind of formal education, the daughters of the first women to own property after marriage. In a very real sense these women, often portrayed as feminist pioneers, were the first beneficiaries of an older generation of feminists. When Hilda Rix travelled abroad to study art, she did so both with family, and with family support. She was encouraged to make art, and her illustrative style, first demonstrated when she was a student, continued through her maturity.

American Women Modernists: The Legacy of Robert Henri, 1910-1945 by Sarah Burns – Paperback: 274 pages; Rutgers University Press (Aug 25, 2005)

Early American modernist art has been defined for decades by a narrow range of works by almost entirely male New York–based artists in the circles of Alfred Stieglitz and Walter Arensberg. Typically, Georgia O’Keeffe is the solitary acknowledged exception to these male-dominated modernist circles. But, Marian Wardle and the contributors to this long-overdue collection issue a powerful challenge to this narrow view. They reveal that scores of women artists of the period produced works that were significant, influential, and indubitably modern.

All the women considered in this study were once the art students of the popular and perhaps most influential American art teacher of the twentieth century, Robert Henri (1865–1929). Henri encouraged an art that was expressive of personal emotions and experience and that was grounded in life. He preached equality among different media and approaches to art. Giving heed to his teachings, his women students engaged in a wide variety of artistic production. Collectively, the stunning variety and power of their work in painting, sculpture, printmaking, textiles, decorative arts, and furniture broadens our understanding of American modernism and illuminates the role of women artists in shaping it. Yet, these women have remained largely unstudied, and virtually unknown, even among art historians.

The seven new essays included in this volume move beyond the famed Ashcan School—the small group of Henri’s male students who worked in a narrow range of urban realist subjects—to recover the lesser known work of his women students. The contributors, who include well-known scholars of art history, American studies, and cultural studies demonstrate how these women participated in the "modernizing" of women’s roles during this era; how gender controlled their art, productivity, sales, and reception; how their many styles, media, and subjects enrich our understanding of modern American art; and how the work of modern women artists relates to women’s involvement in other areas of modern American society and culture, including labor and social reform, patronage, literature, dance, and music.

Lavishly illustrated and complemented by short biographies of more than 400 of Henri’s students, this delightful collection adds a long-ignored but deserving dimension to an expanded story of American modernism and to women’s contributions to the arts. "Long overdue, this richly documented book restores the female presence in early twentieth-century American art, design, and craft. Brava to all the contributors for their mighty labors in the archives and museum collections."—Wanda M. Corn, Robert and Ruth Halperin professor in art history, Stanford University

Mirror, Mirror: Self-Portraits by Women Artists by Liz Rideal, Whitney Chadwick, Frances Borzello – Paperback: 120 pages; Watson-Guptill (Apr 1, 2002)

The self-portrait is an artist's most intriguing vehicle for analysis and self-expression. Serving a dual role as both creator and subject, artists are offered unusual freedom; as a result, self-portraits offer special value and high interest for both artists and art lovers. Mirror Mirror explores the role of the self-portrait in the work of 40 women artists from the mid-17th century to today.

Filled with gorgeous, full-color reproductions, this unique guide covers a wide range of media-from oil painting to photography, woodcut to ceramic sculpture. Readers will discover the rare work of major painters including Mary Beale, Gwen John, and Dame Barbara Hepworth, as well as portraits by women known primarily for their work in other media, such as photographer Lee Miller and ceramicist Susie Cooper. Each of these wonderful self-portraits appears chronologically and features fascinating biographical details of each artist, as well as inspiring essays from two leading art historians: Whitney Chadwick, who discusses style, technique, and how the artist explored her own identity; and Frances Borzello, who presents the historical background and artistic context of each portrait.

Whether you're interested in history, art appreciation, or general women's issues, Mirror Mirror offers a rare look into the work, intrigue, and genius of some of the most creative women artists throughout the centuries.

The Life and Work of Sarah Purser by John O'Grady, Intl Specialized Book Service Irish Academic Pr, Sarah Purser – Hardcover: 288 pages; Four Courts Press (Sep 1, 1996)

Sarah Purser (March 22, 1848 - August 7, 1943) was an Irish artist. She studied in Paris at the Atelier Julian and worked mostly as a portraitist, through her own talent and energy, and through her friendship with the Gore-Booths she was very successful in obtaining commission, she herself famously commented "I went through the British aristocracy like the measles."

However, Bruce Arnold (1977) notes "some of her finest and most sensitive work was not strictly portraiture, for example, An Irish Idyll in the Ulster Museum, and Le Petit Déjeuner [in the National Gallery of Ireland ]"

Sarah Purser became very wealthy through astute investments, particularily in Guinness. She was very active in the art world in Dublin and was involved in the setting up of the Hugh Lane Municipal Gallery, she was the one who persuaded the Irish government to give over Charlemont House for that purpose. She was also associated with the stain glass movement founding a stained-glass workshop, An Túr Gloine in 1903. In 1923 she became the first female member of the Royal Hibernian Academy.

Lilla Cabot Perry: An American Impressionist by Meredith Martindale, Pamela Moffat, Nancy Mowll Mathews – Paperback: 164 pages; Cross River Press; Reissue edition (Mar 1, 1995)

Reader review: As highlighted in the this book's essay by Nancy Mowll Mathews, Lilla Cabot Perry's story and work provide an interesting comparison to Mary Cassatt. Whereas Cassatt, Cecilia Beaux and several other 19th century women painters chose never to marry, some, like Berthe Morisot and Lilla Cabot Perry did manage to marry, raise children, and maintain a professional level of focus on their art.

This book contains many color plates of Lilla Cabot Perry's work: her portraits of her husband and three daughters, and her self portraits, as well as her landscapes. Ironically, she (like Sargent and others) were glad to be able to stop painting portraits and concentrate on landscapes. The examples in this book suggest that the portraits were by far the best of Perry's work.

Painting Women: Victorian Women Artists by Deborah Cherry – Paperback: 336 pages; Routledge; 1st edition (Jul 14, 1993)

Sofonisba's Lesson: A Renaissance Artist and Her Work by Michael W. Cole – Hardcover: 312 pages; Princeton University Press (Feb 11, 2020)

Sofonisba Anguissola: The First Great Woman Artist of the Renaissance by Ilya Sandra Perlingieri – Hardcover: 223 pages; Rizzoli; 1st edition (1992)

Sofonisba Anguissola was a student of Michelangelo and court painter to King Philip II of Spain. Perlingieri's sixteen-year study of the artist documents the life and work of an exceptional woman whose name and paintings have disappeared from history. This volume contains numerous color plates.

Louise Altson: A Gifted Artist Who Captured the Person, Not Just the Image by John Altson, George Altson, Carol Altson, Jean Truax – Hardcover: 262 pages; John Altson's Books (Apr 20, 2016)

Louise Altson (1910 - 2010) was a talented portrait painter who amassed an extraordinary collection of works. While no official count of her works has been established, a rough estimate could be a total of seven hundred portraits within a forty-year span. Thirty-three prominent families are covered as chapters, with each such chapter featuring photographs of the portraits, testimonials, and occasional anecdotal information about Louise Altson and the portrait painting process. Mrs. William Guggenheim, Mr. and Mrs. Eugene Grace, Mr. and Mrs. O. deGray Vanderbilt, Mr. and Mrs. Eugene du Pont III, President George H.W. and Barbara Bush, The Le Maire / Squibb family, The Combemale / Woolworth family, Mr. and Mrs. Cyrus Fulton, Senator and Mrs. Lloyd Bentsen, Mr. and Mrs. Roger Firestone, Mr. and Mrs. James Maytag, Phoebe Snow and The Lafayette Society.

Eighteenth Century Women Artists by Caroline Chapman – Hardcover: 176 pages; Unicorn Publishing Group; 1st Edition edition (Sep 15, 2017)

Eighteenth-Century Women Artists celebrates the work of women who had the tenacity and skill (and sometimes the necessary dash of luck) to succeed against the odds. Caroline Chapman examines the careers and working lives of celebrated artists like Angelica Kauffman and Elisabeth Vigée Le Brun as well as the equally interesting work of artists who have now mostly been forgotten. In addition to discussing their varied artworks, Chapman considers artists’ studios, the functioning of the print market, how art was sold, the role of patrons, and the rise of the lady amateur. It is enriched by over fifty color images, which offer a rich selection of art from the time.

Self-Portraits by Women Painters by Liana De Girolami Cheney, Alicia Craig Faxon, Kathleen Lucey Russo – Paperback: 326 pages; New Academia Publishing, LLC (Sep 4, 2009)

The story of the self-portrait offers fascinating insights which deepen our understanding of these artists' working lives, priorities and preoccupations. With its chronological sweep, its lavish illustrations, including many works which have not been reproduced in print before, and its extensive bibliography, this book is an indispensable guide to a fascinating subject.

Adelaide Labille-Guiard: Artist in the Age of Revolution by Laura Auricchio – Hardcover: 144 pages; J. Paul Getty Museum; 1st edition (Jun 22, 2009)

Adélaïde Labille-Guiard (1749–1803), a remarkable portraitist, was among the small number of women ever granted membership in the French Royal Academy of Painting and Sculpture. Her work was sought out by such diverse figures as the aunts of Louis XVI and the future American president Thomas Jefferson. Yet, unlike her contemporary and fellow Academy member, Élisabeth-Louise Vigée-Le Brun, Labille-Guiard remained in France during the Revolution and participated in the reinvention of the country, its art, and its women.

Painting in a Man's World by Diane Broeckhoven, Noëlle Châtelet, Annette Pehnt, Alissa Walser – Paperback: 112 pages; Hatje Cantz (Jun 1, 2008)

In this illustrated reader, four celebrated female authors contribute short stories based on four of the great women Impressionists: Berthe Morisot, a founder of the movement; Mary Cassatt, an American artist influenced by Japanese woodcuts; portraitist Eva Gonzalès; and Marie Bracquemond, whose career suffered greatly under the jealousy of her husband.

Tough by Nature: Portraits of Cowgirls and Ranch Women of the American West Lynda Lanker – Hardcover: 132 pages; Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art; 1st edition (Jun 1, 2012)

Great Women Masters of Art by Jordi Vigue – Paperback: 480 pages; Watson-Guptill (Apr 1, 2003)

An entertaining, informative, and inspirational look at the greatest women artists of all time! The latest entry in the new Great Masters of Art series, Great Women Masters of Art is an affordable, easy-to-use guide featuring the life and work of the greatest women painters of Western art-from the 15th century to the present day. Legendary women painters of each key historical movement are included, such as Sofonisba Anguissola, Artemisia Gentileschi, Judith Leyster, Mary Cassatt, Georgia O'Keeffe, Gwen John, Frida Kahlo, and dozens more.

Each artist is represented by several impressive reproductions of her most significant works, alongside a biographical timeline and brief history of her life and career. Every dazzling, full-color reproduction includes cultural and aesthetic discussions about the individual painting. Plus, entertaining anecdotes and stories bring each woman's inspirations, circumstances, and creative genius to life. This one-stop guide is appealing, compact, lavishly illustrated, and conveniently organized for fast and easy use. Great Women Masters of Art is an enjoyable trip for all.

Lavinia Fontana: A Painter and Her Patrons in Sixteenth-century Bologna by Caroline P. Murphy – Hardcover: 244 pages; Yale University Press (Mar 11, 2003)

When Artemisia Gentileschi, the best-remembered woman Renaissance painter, was born, Lavinia Fontana was already an established and prolific Bologna-based painter celebrated throughout Europe. Art historian Murphy is the first to write an in-depth, English-language treatise on heretofore overlooked Fontana and her world, and the resulting finely illustrated volume is exhilarating.

The first female artist "to attain professional success, not in court or convent, but in direct competition with male artists in her own city," Lavinia, like Artemisia, was the daughter of a painter, Prospero. Murphy convincingly argues that Prospero's ambitions exceeded his talents and means, leading to his pragmatic decision to encourage his younger daughter to take up the brush and support their struggling family.

The rapid evolution of her technical abilities and the deepening of her sensibility are impressive feats to follow as Murphy recounts Lavinia's unconventional life and marriage, and marvels over her ability to paint nonstop in spite of 11 pregnancies. From her sometimes kitschy, sometimes elegant devotional paintings to her superb portraits of Bolognese scholars and noblewomen to her compassionate portraits of widows and children, Fontana documented and enriched her times, and now Murphy's portrait of this gifted and triumphant sixteenth-century woman painter enhances ours. —Donna Seaman Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

Seeing Ourselves: Women's
by Frances Borzello – Hardcover: 224 pages; Harry N. Abrams (Mar 1998)

Borzello traces women's self-portraits across eight centuries, deftly weaving together art and social history, the biographies of many women artists, and a wide selection of paintings, prints, and photographs by women. While some of the pieces are primarily of historical interest, there are some stunning works here, including period works by such accomplished painters as Artemisia Gentileschi and Rosalba Carriera and modern works by such little known but talented painters as Zinaida Serebryakova and Lotte Laserstein, and paintings by such familiar figures as Frida Kahol and Paula Modersohn-Racker.

The Art of Reflection: Women Artists' Self-Portraiture in the Twentieth Century by Marsha Meskimmon – Hardcover: 256 pages; Scarlet Press (May 1996)

Self-portraiture has long been a means for the male artist to assert an identity as masterful creator or tortured soul; women have overwhelmingly been presented as objects, and rarely as subjects of self-portraiture. In recent years, however, women artists have used their work to disrupt this tradition.

With 43 illustrations of works by Louise Bourgeois, Frida Kahlo, Alice Neel, Cindy Sherman, and Jo Spence, among others, The Art of Reflection is the first sustained inquiry into the appropriation of self-portraiture by women.

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