History: Women in Art: Northern Europe, Renaissance through 18th Century

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Week 2 involves the study of domestic genres and women painters in Northern Europe. We also consider amateurs and academics. What constituted an amateur versus a professional woman artist? In addition we’ll cover acceptable subject matter for women and gendered interpretations. Finally we'll examine the art academies and gender issues.


  • becoming a professional
  • domestic genres
  • new ideologies
  • portraiture by women
  • the woman’s touch
  • Judith Leyster
  • Maria Merian–travel, art, and science
  • Madame Vigée-Lebrun–court painter


By end of this week, you should able to

  • explain how women and men depict the same subject matter quite differently
  • discuss how a woman such as Vigée-Lebrun rose to great heights as an artist and considerable success when most women did not
  • recognize the styles of the era
  • list the women artists’ names and their works
  • describe the historical background and the culture of the regions involved

Women Artists of the 18th Century

A Woman's Touch: The National Museum of Women in the Arts

Maria Sibylla Merian & Daughters: Women of Art and Science

Judith Leyster (1609-1660)

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Judith Leyster Self Portrait, 1630

Judith Leyster studied from Hals and had a great career as a portraitist. She wears attire which associates her with a wealthy family and her painter's guild. She smiles and is confident in her abilities her work looks much like Hals while she also demonstrates that women were capable of forming an artistic career in the merchantilist society.

Élisabeth Louise Vigée-LeBrun (1755-1842)




Information Version
2019-10-06 09:56 SCantor
Updated links to new tabs, added link for Vigee LeBrun
2019-10-06 09:51 SCantor updated links to new tabs, fixed broken URL for NMWA video, new link for Leyster to Khan Academy rather than NYTimes (subscription required) 4
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