Influential Female Artists Throughout History

Time to celebrate some of the great female artists in history. While things have gotten better over the centuries, it is still much harder for women than men to achieve and sustain success in the art world. Perhaps getting to know a few giants will encourage you to support and invest in the female artists of today.

Mary Cassatt

Breakfast in Bed

Mary Cassatt was an American painter whose father was a successful stockbroker and land speculator. Although Cassatt's family supported her living expenses, they refused to pay for art supplies, hoping to discourage her from seeking an independent living. Therefore, although born in Pennsylvania, she lived mainly in France, where Edgar Degas befriended her and helped her exhibit among the Impressionists. Cassatt's work portrays social and private moments in the lives of women. She was particularly adept at capturing intimate moments between mothers and children that lived on in her works.

Impressionism (1844-1926)

View all Mary Cassatt oil paintings

Artemisia Gentileschi

Self-portrait as a Female Martyr

Artemisia Gentileschi, whose father was a renowned Roman artist, was one of the first women artists to be recognized in the male-dominated Renaissance art world. She was the first woman to paint major historical, mostly religious, themes.

After art academies refused her, she studied under Agostino Tassi, who later raped her. The trauma of the rape took life in graphic depictions in her art. Her heroines, especially Judith, are powerful women who get revenge on male evildoers.

Renaissance, chiaroscuro (1597-1651)

View all Artemisia Gentileschi oil paintings

Elisabetta Sirani

Virgin and Child

Elisabetta Sirani was an Italian Baroque painter who died mysteriously at age 27. Despite her short life she was the most famous woman artist in Bologna, where she established an academy for women artists.

Trained by her father, Giovanni Andrea Sirani, a painter at the School of Bologna, she took over her family's art studio while still a teenager. Under her tenure, the studio was incredibly successful. Bologna was progressive at the time. Women artists were welcome, and even celebrated. She trained a number of men and women artists before her early death, likely caused by peptic ulcers.

What is striking about Sirani's painting is the remarkable attention to detail and the delicate use of color as it can be seen in her painting "Virgin and Child".

Baroque (1638-1665)

View all Elisabetta Sirani oil paintings

Elisabeth Vigee-Lebrun

Marie Antoinette 1755-93 with a Rose, 1783

Elisabeth Vigee-Lebrun painted in Revolutionary France. Among her patrons was the notorious Marie Antoinette, who Vigee-Lebrun painted several times. These portraits helped mark her as one of the most important women artists of all time. As a self-taught portraitist with exceptional skills, she achieved success during one of the most turbulent eras of European history. One of her most famous works is the painting "Marie Antoinette with a Rose, created in 1783".

Neo-classical (1755-1842)

View all Elisabeth Vigee-Lebrun oil paintings

Final Thoughts

It should be apparent from the artists that we surveyed here that the mark of famous female painters needs to be painted with a wide brush. Making reproductions of art by great women in history is one way to commemorate and popularize their talent.

Another way we are supporting the success of female artists is by offering a 10% discount on their artwork, forever, no coupon code needed. Buy an oil painting from a famous female artist on our site and instantly save 10%! It is our hope that this will, in some small way, help break down the barriers that the male dominated art world has erected. Thus, with this discount, aims to do their small part to correct this historic evil.