Women have made countless rich contributions throughout human history – including (of course) within the art world! In celebration of all of those achievements, this blog aims to call attention to those underrated contributions from women who dedicated themselves to art.
While there are many well-known female artists, there are also those who often go neglected in our studies today. In this blog, we will showcase 5 female artists across 5 different centuries who have made significant contributions to the art world but are not as widely recognized.
For every one of these 5 women, there are MANY thousands more who contributed to the art scene of their times… This blog honors all of them – both known and unknown!
#1 – Sofonisba Anguissola (1532—1625)
Sofonisba Anguissola was an Italian Renaissance painter best known for her portraits! Her works were highly sought after by the nobility of her time. She was born into a noble family and received an education, which was unfortunately rare for women during her lifetime.
She’s also one of the first female artists to get international recognition – her works were collected by both royalty and aristocrats in Europe. Her painting called “The Chess Game” is one of her more famous pieces of work (shown below).
In this painting she depicts her sisters playing a game of chess. One sister she’s painted as emotionally deep in thought, while the other sister is looking a bit mischievous. 😉
Her portraits were praised for their realism and her ability to showcase emotion. She even painted portraits for both King Philip II of Spain and Queen Isabel de Valois of Spain!
#2 – Artemisia Gentileschi (1593-1653)
Artemisia Gentileschi was an Italian Baroque painter from the 17th century. She was one of the few female artists of her time who gained recognition and success in what was – at the time – a male-dominated field.
Her works were characterized by their dramatic and powerful portrayal of biblical and mythological scenes.
Her most famous painting is “Judith Slaying Holofernes,” which depicts the biblical scene of Judith beheading the Assyrian general Holofernes. The painting is known for its graphic and realistic depiction of violence, which was really unusual for a female artist to paint at that time.
Another one of her most famous works is “The Annunciation” (shown below), which she painted around 1630. This painting depicts the biblical scene of the archangel Gabriel appearing to the Virgin Mary to announce that she will give birth to Jesus.
Gentileschi humanizes Mary in her painting… She shows her as both in awe, while also terrified. At the time, it was uncommon in traditional religious art to portray Mary as anything other than serene and otherworldly.
#3 – Angelica Kauffman (1741-1807)
Angelica Kauffman was an Austrian-English painter and one of the founding members of the Royal Academy of Arts in London!
She was known for her neoclassical style and her ability to paint in different genres, including:
And historical scenes
She was even a skilled musician (she played the harp, piano, and guitar). And she spoke several languages as well, including Swiss, German, Italian, French, and English – my, was she busy!
“Zeuxis Choosing his Models” is one of her most well known works (shown below). It’s a painting of an ancient Greek artist named Zeuxis. In the painting, he is deciding which of the most beautiful women in Croton will be his models for his portrait of Helen of Troy.
The painting is recognized for its composition, use of vivid colors, and the lifelike depiction of the figures, all of which were part of Kauffman’s neoclassical style!
#4 – Berthe Morisot (1841-1895)
Berthe Morisot was a French Impressionist painter and one of the few female artists of her time to gain recognition and respect from her male counterparts.
She was known for her delicate brushstrokes and subtle use of color, which gave her paintings a sort of ‘dreamlike’ quality and feel to them.
Her works were often inspired by scenes of everyday life, usually of women and children. Her painting “The Cradle” is a famous example of her work (shown below).
In this painting she captures the emotion of a mother gazing lovingly at her sleeping baby.
#5 – Toyin Ojih Odutola (1985-present)
Toyin Ojih Odutola is a Nigerian-American artist who currently lives and works in New York City.
She is known for her stunning portraits, which explore themes of identity, race, and gender. Her works often feature Black subjects, challenging art historical narratives that typically excluded people of color.
Toyin has been featured in several solo exhibitions, including “The Treatment” exhibition at the Whitney Museum of American Art in 2019.
She also has many colorful multimedia drawings and works on paper, including “What Her Daughter Sees” (shown below).
She uses her work to address urgent social issues, while also celebrating the beauty and complexity of the human form.
These five female artists have made significant contributions to the art world and deserve to be celebrated and recognized. From Artemisia Gentileschi’s powerful biblical scenes to Toyin Ojih Odutola’s timely portraits, these women have challenged traditional norms and paved the way for future generations of female artists.
Here’s to all of our women in Simple Daily Drawing and all of the women of today’s world who continue to pave the way in the art industry!
You are all incredibly talented and unique – with your own stories worth telling, and your work is worth celebrating. ❤️ Keep rocking it, beautifuls!