Ingenious Women — Women Artists and their Companions
They portrayed royalty and nobility, owned workshops, schooled individual aspirants, but for the most part fell into oblivion—women artists. Northern and southern Europe of the 16th and 18th centuries was home to far more women painters, teachers, and graphic artists (some highly successful) than we have been led to expect. While for women a career in art was not altogether out of the question, it was deemed socially undesirable and would be pursued only under exceptional circumstances. However, aided by family members, teachers, and other pioneers, such prescriptive roles could be breached.
Women were long barred from art academies (in Italy, for instance, until 1606). Hence, women artists typically came from artistic families, where they could acquire the necessary skills outside of official studies. Marietta Robusti—nicknamed La Tintoretta (1554/55–1614) because she was the daughter of Jacopo Robusti, known as Tintoretto—accompanied her father on commissions at an early age prior to becoming a celebrated painter herself. Yet others had less good fortune and worked for their family members in secrecy. Still others married into artist families. Of Rachel Ruysch (1664–1750), evidence indicates that her husband, painter Jurien Pool (1666–1625), not only encouraged her to paint, but that her still lifes even sold more than his. Rarer aspirants stemmed from a higher social class, as was the case with Sofonisba Anguissola (1532–1625). Trained by artist and master Bernardino Campi (1522–1591), she even received commissions from the Spanish court.
A joint endeavor initiated by the Bucerius Kunst Forum Hamburg and the Kunstmuseum Basel, the exhibition showcases works by 18 women artists, contextualizing them for the first time with those of their fathers, brothers, husbands, and teachers. These series of focused juxtapositions, creative and thematic parallels, and divergences are presented in truly fascinating form. Against the backdrop of societal and familial milieu, “Ingenious Women” brings together portraits, history paintings, still lifes, drawings, and graphic arts dating from the Renaissance, Baroque, and Classicist epochs.
St. Alban-Graben 16