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Art Industry News: Gagosian Invites Gary Garrels, Who Left SFMOMA Amid a Staff Revolt, to Curate a Major Show of Abstract Art + Other Stories – artnet News

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Art Industry News is a daily digest of the most consequential developments coming out of the art world and art market. Here’s what you need to know on this Wednesday, March 8.

NEED-TO-READ

Is This Picasso Painting Looted Art? – Madame Soler, the painting from Picasso’s Blue Period housed in the Bavarian State Painting Collections, is at the center of an ownership dispute as the heirs of Jewish banker and art collector Paul von Mendelssohn-Bartholdy claim that they are the rightful owners. The case remains unresolved as it could not be determined whether the painting was sold under duress amid Nazi Germany’s persecution of Jewish people. (DW)

Otobong Nkanga Joins Lisson – The Nigerian-born Antwerp-based artist has left Mendes Wood DM to join the roster at Lisson Gallery, attributing the move as a “question of growing with another team” and with “a gallery that I’ve always had great admiration for.” The artist’s multidisciplinary works, spanning painting, textiles, sculpture, and film, reference the history and legacy of colonialism, will go on view in a show at the gallery’s London outpost in May. Nkanga will continue to be represented by Lumen Travo in Amsterdam and Galerie In Situ-Fabienne Leclerc in Paris. (The Art Newspaper)

300x250x1

Gagosian to Mount Major Abstraction Show – The gallery will be staging “To Bend the Ear from the Outer World: Conversations on contemporary abstract painting,” an expansive show featuring more than 40 artists curated by Gary Garrels, the former senior curator at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art who resigned in 2020 amid a row with staff about systemic inequality. It will be mounted across two of its London locations, at Grosvenor Hill and Davies Street. (Press release)

Police Seize Banksy Works in Criminal Investigation – Three works by the elusive artist—his sculpture Grappling Hook, a work titled White Tower, and Monkey Queen, a satirical portrait of the late monarch—have been in the custody of Gwent police in Wales since March 2021 as part of an investigation into a 35-year-old man, court documents revealed. The works are suspected proceeds from a crime. (Evening Standard)

MOVERS & SHAKERS

Jaune Quick-to-See Smith to Curate National Gallery Show – The Native American painter is the first artist to curate a show at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.. The show will feature around 50 living Indigenous artists. (The Art Newspaper)

Andy Warhol’s Watch Sells for $101,600 – A Rare Patek Philippe Ref. 2526 pink gold wristwatch with a first-series enamel dial exceeded its presale estimate of $80,000 at Sotheby’s Fine Watches sale, fetching more than $100,000 on Tuesday. The timepiece was first auctioned at Sotheby’s in 1988 after a secret compartment in the late artist’s bedroom cabinet was discovered holding a veritable treasure trove of watches, gemstones, and designer jewels. (Sotheby’s)

LACMA Building Campaign Nears Completion – The fundraising campaign for the controversial new building designed by starchitect Peter Zumthor is 98 percent complete with more than $735 million raised for the project. (LA Times)

Robert Indiana’s Foundation Adds Bold Names to Board – The Star of Hope Foundation, created by the late artist to support the visual arts in his home state of Maine, has finalized its Board of Directors. Appointees include art-world heavyweights Mark Bessire, director of the Portland Museum of Art; Sharon Corwin, President & CEO of Chicago’s Terra Foundation for American Art; and Adam Weinberg, director of Manhattan’s Whitney Museum of American Art. (Press release)

FOR ARTS SAKE

Madame Tussauds Creates Wax Figure of Emmeline Pankhurst – More than a century after co-founding the Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU), Pankhurst has been immortalized as a new wax statue in London’s Madame Tussauds to mark International Women’s Day. Pankhurst was a leading member of the suffragettes who fought for women’s right to vote in the early 20th century in the U.K. A panel discussion about Pankhurst’s impact was held at London wax museum. (Evening Standard)

Suffragette and feminist trailblazer Emmeline Pankhurst’s new waxwork unveiled at Madame Tussauds to mark International Women's Day. Courtesy Madame Tussauds London.

Madame Tussauds London’s artist, Luisa Compobassi, puts the finishing touches to Suffragette and feminist trailblazer Emmeline Pankhurst’s new figure ahead of its arrival at the attraction to mark International Women’s Day. Courtesy Madame Tussauds.

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AGO’s Making Her Mark exhibition uncovers historic women’s art by breaking categories

Published

 on

[ad_1]

Open this photo in gallery:

Judith Leyster. Self-Portrait, c.1630. Oil on canvas, Unframed 74.6 × 65.1 cm. National Gallery of Art, Washington, Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Robert Woods Bliss, 1949.6.1. Courtesy National Gallery.Handout

The new exhibition Making Her Mark at the Art Gallery of Ontario begins with a 53-year-old question: “Why have there been no great women artists?” That was the title of a 1971 essay by American art historian Linda Nochlin and the question still bedevils today’s art museums, whose historical collections are stuffed with paintings and sculptures made almost exclusively by men.

Nochlin helped organize a show of female artists at the Los Angeles County Museum in 1976; three years later, writer Germaine Greer charted the domestic responsibilities and patriarchal professional structures that blocked women from painting in The Obstacle Race. These exercises uncovered some figures now much celebrated, such as the Italian Renaissance painter Artemisia Gentileschi; the 17th-century Dutch painter Judith Leyster, whose work was sometimes wrongly attributed to Frans Hals; and the 18th-century French portraitist Elisabeth Vigée-LeBrun.

These celebrated artists are not the point of Making Her Mark, which includes only one very small Gentileschi, a single Leyster self-portrait and a few nice examples of Vigée-LeBrun – among more than 230 objects on display by about 70 different artists or communities, some known, some anonymous.

300x250x1

Instead of hunting for the exceptions, Making Her Mark considers all female artistic activity in Europe from 1400 to 1800. It offers paintings, many prints and a handful of sculptures, but dismisses the traditional hierarchy of the so-called fine arts over the decorative arts to include ceramics, silverware and textiles. It also largely ignores the distinction between professional artists and amateurs, featuring private domestic crafts and devotional handiwork made in convents.

The exhibition was organized, thematically not chronologically, by the AGO’s prints and drawing curator Alexa Greist with Andaleeb Badiee Banta and Theresa Kutasz Christensen of the Baltimore Museum of Art, where it originated last year. It takes the year 1400 as a starting point because that is the beginning of a Western canon of named artists and it ends in 1800 because women began to be admitted to art academies in the 19th century. (Although the show notes that prohibitions against female participation prior to 1800 were not as insurmountable as sometimes suggested.)

So what does all this offer the viewer who might be more interested in beautiful things and compelling stories than righting historical wrongs? The rare objects in this large exhibition are often examples of the decorative arts. They are rare partly because textiles, paper and ceramics are more fragile than paintings and sculptures, and some pieces may have been in regular domestic use.

Open this photo in gallery:

Anna Maria Garthwaite, Gown, textile 1726-1728; gown 1775-1785. Silk lampas brocaded with silk; linen bodice and sleeve lining, length 137.2 cm; waist 55.9 cm; textile width 53.3 cm; vertical r copy.jpg.

PLEASE USE CREDIT IN FULLHandout

The 18th-century British fashion designer Anna Maria Garthwaite is represented not only by a spectacular gown with floral embroidery (from the collection of the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation in Virginia), but also by a miniature scene of a manor house and garden she made entirely from knife-cut paper (loaned by the Victoria and Albert Museum in London).

Open this photo in gallery:

Decorator Pauline Rifer de Courcelles known as Madame Knip, Manufacturer Manufacture Nationale de Sèvres, Vase with African Birds, 1822 copy.jpg.

PLEASE USE CREDIT IN FULLHandout

Working as a freelancer for the Sèvres factory, the early 19th-century French porcelain painter Pauline Rifer de Courcelles, known as Madame Knip, was able to reproduce in resplendent detail the ornithological specimens she saw at the natural history museum in Paris: A vase with African birds and six plates from a South American birds series are highlights among several sets of ceramics.

The show also includes samplers, those technical displays of a young woman’s best needlework. Here, a precise and graphically powerful map of Europe stands out. It was stitched by a boarding-school student named Elizabeth Hawkins in Britain in 1797. Nearby is a 300-year-old crewelwork bed curtain embroidered with wool, silk and cotton by M.K. Herbert, its exotic flowers and birds as pleasing today as they must have been in 1692.

Open this photo in gallery:

Sophia Jane Maria Bonnell and Mary Anne Harvey Bonnell Paper Filigree Cabinet on Stand with Hairwork and Watercolor Panels, c.1789. Wood, paper, metallic paper, silk, hair, and adhesive, 105.4 copy.jpg.

PLEASE USE CREDIT IN FULLHandout

The high point of these domestic pieces, often made by women for their own homes, is a wooden stand with a small cabinet on top. Both are decorated with paper filigree (or quillwork): small cylinders of rolled-up paper that mimic the look of expensive wooden inlay. It was created by Sophia Jane Maria Bonnell and her companion Mary Anne Harvey Bonnell in England around 1789, and is one of only seven surviving examples of paper filigree furniture in the world.

We know a bit about the makers if they were professionals: In many cases, widows took over the studios of artisan husbands (whose toxic professions often killed them young). In several countries widows were allowed to use a late husband’s silver hallmarks and could be granted new ones of their own. But sometimes credit was not given: Making Her Mark, which includes a Hepplewhite chair, argues that the famously restrained classical furniture style should correctly be attributed to George Hepplewhite’s widow, Alice.

Much less is known about the private or domestic makers: M.K. Herbert, for example, is now nothing but a name. One can imagine that Christensen, the exhibition’s research assistant from Baltimore, did a lot of heavy lifting to track down buried histories.

The painters, competing in a male realm where individual artists were celebrated, tend to better known, and there are lots of fine paintings and drawings in this exhibition – as well as some not so fine. Flower paintings and portraits dominate, as women could not aspire higher up the hierarchy of genres to religious or historical scenes.

Open this photo in gallery:

Marie Victoire Lemoine. Portrait of a Youth in an Embroidered Vest, 1785 copy.jpg.

PLEASE USE CREDIT IN FULLHandout

Marie Victoire Lemoine’s 1785 Portrait of a Youth in An Embroidered Vest stands out as virtuosic: a painting of an African boy in a satin jacket, probably a servant in a French household (whether an enslaved person or a free one), rendered with impressive sensitivity to skin tones, physiognomy and character. Similarly, a tiny miniature portraiture by Susannah-Penelope Rosse of Nell Gwyn – actress, wit and mistress to Charles II of Britain – shows a face that bounces out from history. Meanwhile, the pencil drawings of women painting or sewing by Fanny Guillaume de Bassoncourt are remarkable for their almost obsessive linear detail.

Nudes are few, since women were not allowed to study life drawing, hampering their progress in what is known, not coincidentally, as draftsmanship. Among the rarest things in this show are three chalk drawings of nudes, two of them male, by the Italian artist Giulia Lama (who did get commissions for large-scale historical and religious work). Their treatment of musculature reveals that Lama was somehow getting access to live models, and the sketches are the only known examples of male nudes drawn from life that can be attributed to a named woman prior to 1800. Meanwhile, a self-portrait by Anne Guéret from 1793 that shows her drawing a nude angel also hints at cracks in the assumed prohibition.

Most women, however, did not attend life drawing classes, and one sometimes senses that lack. Fede Galizia’s Judith with the Head of Holofernes from 1596 is a static thing: The didactic panel notes that the calm, bejewelled Judith is at odds with the violence of her act. What’s missing is the comparison with Gentileschi’s dramatic treatment of the same subject, a painting at the Detroit Institute of Arts that was on show in Baltimore but couldn’t make it to Toronto. If you compare the two in the catalogue, you can see why Gentileschi remains the most famous female artist of the Italian Renaissance.

Next to the Galizia is Amalia von Königsmarck’s almost laughable Allegory with Self-Portrait and Profile Portrait of Ulrika Eleonora the Elder: The Swedish queen and two allegorical figures all seem to share the same face as the artist herself. The exhibition ends with much more convincing self-portraits – a grinning Leyster leaning back from her happy work in 1630; a composed Guéret turning from her sketching – as it records female artists staking their claim to professional recognition by showing themselves with the tools of their trade.

Of course, the solitary celebrity they grasp at is a male construction. The main message in Making her Mark is that you have to look at the categories from a different angle to discover all kinds of women making all kinds of art.

Making Her Mark: A History of Women Artists in Europe 1400-1800 continues at the Art Gallery of Ontario to July 1.

 

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Continue Reading

Art

AGO’s Making Her Mark exhibition uncovers historic women’s art by breaking categories

Published

 on

[ad_1]

Open this photo in gallery:

Judith Leyster. Self-Portrait, c.1630. Oil on canvas, Unframed 74.6 × 65.1 cm. National Gallery of Art, Washington, Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Robert Woods Bliss, 1949.6.1. Courtesy National Gallery.Handout

The new exhibition Making Her Mark at the Art Gallery of Ontario begins with a 53-year-old question: “Why have there been no great women artists?” That was the title of a 1971 essay by American art historian Linda Nochlin and the question still bedevils today’s art museums, whose historical collections are stuffed with paintings and sculptures made almost exclusively by men.

Nochlin helped organize a show of female artists at the Los Angeles County Museum in 1976; three years later, writer Germaine Greer charted the domestic responsibilities and patriarchal professional structures that blocked women from painting in The Obstacle Race. These exercises uncovered some figures now much celebrated, such as the Italian Renaissance painter Artemisia Gentileschi; the 17th-century Dutch painter Judith Leyster, whose work was sometimes wrongly attributed to Frans Hals; and the 18th-century French portraitist Elisabeth Vigée-LeBrun.

These celebrated artists are not the point of Making Her Mark, which includes only one very small Gentileschi, a single Leyster self-portrait and a few nice examples of Vigée-LeBrun – among more than 230 objects on display by about 70 different artists or communities, some known, some anonymous.

300x250x1

Instead of hunting for the exceptions, Making Her Mark considers all female artistic activity in Europe from 1400 to 1800. It offers paintings, many prints and a handful of sculptures, but dismisses the traditional hierarchy of the so-called fine arts over the decorative arts to include ceramics, silverware and textiles. It also largely ignores the distinction between professional artists and amateurs, featuring private domestic crafts and devotional handiwork made in convents.

The exhibition was organized, thematically not chronologically, by the AGO’s prints and drawing curator Alexa Greist with Andaleeb Badiee Banta and Theresa Kutasz Christensen of the Baltimore Museum of Art, where it originated last year. It takes the year 1400 as a starting point because that is the beginning of a Western canon of named artists and it ends in 1800 because women began to be admitted to art academies in the 19th century. (Although the show notes that prohibitions against female participation prior to 1800 were not as insurmountable as sometimes suggested.)

So what does all this offer the viewer who might be more interested in beautiful things and compelling stories than righting historical wrongs? The rare objects in this large exhibition are often examples of the decorative arts. They are rare partly because textiles, paper and ceramics are more fragile than paintings and sculptures, and some pieces may have been in regular domestic use.

Open this photo in gallery:

Anna Maria Garthwaite, Gown, textile 1726-1728; gown 1775-1785. Silk lampas brocaded with silk; linen bodice and sleeve lining, length 137.2 cm; waist 55.9 cm; textile width 53.3 cm; vertical r copy.jpg.

PLEASE USE CREDIT IN FULLHandout

The 18th-century British fashion designer Anna Maria Garthwaite is represented not only by a spectacular gown with floral embroidery (from the collection of the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation in Virginia), but also by a miniature scene of a manor house and garden she made entirely from knife-cut paper (loaned by the Victoria and Albert Museum in London).

Open this photo in gallery:

Decorator Pauline Rifer de Courcelles known as Madame Knip, Manufacturer Manufacture Nationale de Sèvres, Vase with African Birds, 1822 copy.jpg.

PLEASE USE CREDIT IN FULLHandout

Working as a freelancer for the Sèvres factory, the early 19th-century French porcelain painter Pauline Rifer de Courcelles, known as Madame Knip, was able to reproduce in resplendent detail the ornithological specimens she saw at the natural history museum in Paris: A vase with African birds and six plates from a South American birds series are highlights among several sets of ceramics.

The show also includes samplers, those technical displays of a young woman’s best needlework. Here, a precise and graphically powerful map of Europe stands out. It was stitched by a boarding-school student named Elizabeth Hawkins in Britain in 1797. Nearby is a 300-year-old crewelwork bed curtain embroidered with wool, silk and cotton by M.K. Herbert, its exotic flowers and birds as pleasing today as they must have been in 1692.

Open this photo in gallery:

Sophia Jane Maria Bonnell and Mary Anne Harvey Bonnell Paper Filigree Cabinet on Stand with Hairwork and Watercolor Panels, c.1789. Wood, paper, metallic paper, silk, hair, and adhesive, 105.4 copy.jpg.

PLEASE USE CREDIT IN FULLHandout

The high point of these domestic pieces, often made by women for their own homes, is a wooden stand with a small cabinet on top. Both are decorated with paper filigree (or quillwork): small cylinders of rolled-up paper that mimic the look of expensive wooden inlay. It was created by Sophia Jane Maria Bonnell and her companion Mary Anne Harvey Bonnell in England around 1789, and is one of only seven surviving examples of paper filigree furniture in the world.

We know a bit about the makers if they were professionals: In many cases, widows took over the studios of artisan husbands (whose toxic professions often killed them young). In several countries widows were allowed to use a late husband’s silver hallmarks and could be granted new ones of their own. But sometimes credit was not given: Making Her Mark, which includes a Hepplewhite chair, argues that the famously restrained classical furniture style should correctly be attributed to George Hepplewhite’s widow, Alice.

Much less is known about the private or domestic makers: M.K. Herbert, for example, is now nothing but a name. One can imagine that Christensen, the exhibition’s research assistant from Baltimore, did a lot of heavy lifting to track down buried histories.

The painters, competing in a male realm where individual artists were celebrated, tend to better known, and there are lots of fine paintings and drawings in this exhibition – as well as some not so fine. Flower paintings and portraits dominate, as women could not aspire higher up the hierarchy of genres to religious or historical scenes.

Open this photo in gallery:

Marie Victoire Lemoine. Portrait of a Youth in an Embroidered Vest, 1785 copy.jpg.

PLEASE USE CREDIT IN FULLHandout

Marie Victoire Lemoine’s 1785 Portrait of a Youth in An Embroidered Vest stands out as virtuosic: a painting of an African boy in a satin jacket, probably a servant in a French household (whether an enslaved person or a free one), rendered with impressive sensitivity to skin tones, physiognomy and character. Similarly, a tiny miniature portraiture by Susannah-Penelope Rosse of Nell Gwyn – actress, wit and mistress to Charles II of Britain – shows a face that bounces out from history. Meanwhile, the pencil drawings of women painting or sewing by Fanny Guillaume de Bassoncourt are remarkable for their almost obsessive linear detail.

Nudes are few, since women were not allowed to study life drawing, hampering their progress in what is known, not coincidentally, as draftsmanship. Among the rarest things in this show are three chalk drawings of nudes, two of them male, by the Italian artist Giulia Lama (who did get commissions for large-scale historical and religious work). Their treatment of musculature reveals that Lama was somehow getting access to live models, and the sketches are the only known examples of male nudes drawn from life that can be attributed to a named woman prior to 1800. Meanwhile, a self-portrait by Anne Guéret from 1793 that shows her drawing a nude angel also hints at cracks in the assumed prohibition.

Most women, however, did not attend life drawing classes, and one sometimes senses that lack. Fede Galizia’s Judith with the Head of Holofernes from 1596 is a static thing: The didactic panel notes that the calm, bejewelled Judith is at odds with the violence of her act. What’s missing is the comparison with Gentileschi’s dramatic treatment of the same subject, a painting at the Detroit Institute of Arts that was on show in Baltimore but couldn’t make it to Toronto. If you compare the two in the catalogue, you can see why Gentileschi remains the most famous female artist of the Italian Renaissance.

Next to the Galizia is Amalia von Königsmarck’s almost laughable Allegory with Self-Portrait and Profile Portrait of Ulrika Eleonora the Elder: The Swedish queen and two allegorical figures all seem to share the same face as the artist herself. The exhibition ends with much more convincing self-portraits – a grinning Leyster leaning back from her happy work in 1630; a composed Guéret turning from her sketching – as it records female artists staking their claim to professional recognition by showing themselves with the tools of their trade.

Of course, the solitary celebrity they grasp at is a male construction. The main message in Making her Mark is that you have to look at the categories from a different angle to discover all kinds of women making all kinds of art.

Making Her Mark: A History of Women Artists in Europe 1400-1800 continues at the Art Gallery of Ontario to July 1.

 

[ad_2]

Source link

Continue Reading

Art

AGO’s Making Her Mark exhibition uncovers historic women’s art by breaking categories

Published

 on

[ad_1]

Open this photo in gallery:

Judith Leyster. Self-Portrait, c.1630. Oil on canvas, Unframed 74.6 × 65.1 cm. National Gallery of Art, Washington, Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Robert Woods Bliss, 1949.6.1. Courtesy National Gallery.Handout

The new exhibition Making Her Mark at the Art Gallery of Ontario begins with a 53-year-old question: “Why have there been no great women artists?” That was the title of a 1971 essay by American art historian Linda Nochlin and the question still bedevils today’s art museums, whose historical collections are stuffed with paintings and sculptures made almost exclusively by men.

Nochlin helped organize a show of female artists at the Los Angeles County Museum in 1976; three years later, writer Germaine Greer charted the domestic responsibilities and patriarchal professional structures that blocked women from painting in The Obstacle Race. These exercises uncovered some figures now much celebrated, such as the Italian Renaissance painter Artemisia Gentileschi; the 17th-century Dutch painter Judith Leyster, whose work was sometimes wrongly attributed to Frans Hals; and the 18th-century French portraitist Elisabeth Vigée-LeBrun.

These celebrated artists are not the point of Making Her Mark, which includes only one very small Gentileschi, a single Leyster self-portrait and a few nice examples of Vigée-LeBrun – among more than 230 objects on display by about 70 different artists or communities, some known, some anonymous.

300x250x1

Instead of hunting for the exceptions, Making Her Mark considers all female artistic activity in Europe from 1400 to 1800. It offers paintings, many prints and a handful of sculptures, but dismisses the traditional hierarchy of the so-called fine arts over the decorative arts to include ceramics, silverware and textiles. It also largely ignores the distinction between professional artists and amateurs, featuring private domestic crafts and devotional handiwork made in convents.

The exhibition was organized, thematically not chronologically, by the AGO’s prints and drawing curator Alexa Greist with Andaleeb Badiee Banta and Theresa Kutasz Christensen of the Baltimore Museum of Art, where it originated last year. It takes the year 1400 as a starting point because that is the beginning of a Western canon of named artists and it ends in 1800 because women began to be admitted to art academies in the 19th century. (Although the show notes that prohibitions against female participation prior to 1800 were not as insurmountable as sometimes suggested.)

So what does all this offer the viewer who might be more interested in beautiful things and compelling stories than righting historical wrongs? The rare objects in this large exhibition are often examples of the decorative arts. They are rare partly because textiles, paper and ceramics are more fragile than paintings and sculptures, and some pieces may have been in regular domestic use.

Open this photo in gallery:

Anna Maria Garthwaite, Gown, textile 1726-1728; gown 1775-1785. Silk lampas brocaded with silk; linen bodice and sleeve lining, length 137.2 cm; waist 55.9 cm; textile width 53.3 cm; vertical r copy.jpg.

PLEASE USE CREDIT IN FULLHandout

The 18th-century British fashion designer Anna Maria Garthwaite is represented not only by a spectacular gown with floral embroidery (from the collection of the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation in Virginia), but also by a miniature scene of a manor house and garden she made entirely from knife-cut paper (loaned by the Victoria and Albert Museum in London).

Open this photo in gallery:

Decorator Pauline Rifer de Courcelles known as Madame Knip, Manufacturer Manufacture Nationale de Sèvres, Vase with African Birds, 1822 copy.jpg.

PLEASE USE CREDIT IN FULLHandout

Working as a freelancer for the Sèvres factory, the early 19th-century French porcelain painter Pauline Rifer de Courcelles, known as Madame Knip, was able to reproduce in resplendent detail the ornithological specimens she saw at the natural history museum in Paris: A vase with African birds and six plates from a South American birds series are highlights among several sets of ceramics.

The show also includes samplers, those technical displays of a young woman’s best needlework. Here, a precise and graphically powerful map of Europe stands out. It was stitched by a boarding-school student named Elizabeth Hawkins in Britain in 1797. Nearby is a 300-year-old crewelwork bed curtain embroidered with wool, silk and cotton by M.K. Herbert, its exotic flowers and birds as pleasing today as they must have been in 1692.

Open this photo in gallery:

Sophia Jane Maria Bonnell and Mary Anne Harvey Bonnell Paper Filigree Cabinet on Stand with Hairwork and Watercolor Panels, c.1789. Wood, paper, metallic paper, silk, hair, and adhesive, 105.4 copy.jpg.

PLEASE USE CREDIT IN FULLHandout

The high point of these domestic pieces, often made by women for their own homes, is a wooden stand with a small cabinet on top. Both are decorated with paper filigree (or quillwork): small cylinders of rolled-up paper that mimic the look of expensive wooden inlay. It was created by Sophia Jane Maria Bonnell and her companion Mary Anne Harvey Bonnell in England around 1789, and is one of only seven surviving examples of paper filigree furniture in the world.

We know a bit about the makers if they were professionals: In many cases, widows took over the studios of artisan husbands (whose toxic professions often killed them young). In several countries widows were allowed to use a late husband’s silver hallmarks and could be granted new ones of their own. But sometimes credit was not given: Making Her Mark, which includes a Hepplewhite chair, argues that the famously restrained classical furniture style should correctly be attributed to George Hepplewhite’s widow, Alice.

Much less is known about the private or domestic makers: M.K. Herbert, for example, is now nothing but a name. One can imagine that Christensen, the exhibition’s research assistant from Baltimore, did a lot of heavy lifting to track down buried histories.

The painters, competing in a male realm where individual artists were celebrated, tend to better known, and there are lots of fine paintings and drawings in this exhibition – as well as some not so fine. Flower paintings and portraits dominate, as women could not aspire higher up the hierarchy of genres to religious or historical scenes.

Open this photo in gallery:

Marie Victoire Lemoine. Portrait of a Youth in an Embroidered Vest, 1785 copy.jpg.

PLEASE USE CREDIT IN FULLHandout

Marie Victoire Lemoine’s 1785 Portrait of a Youth in An Embroidered Vest stands out as virtuosic: a painting of an African boy in a satin jacket, probably a servant in a French household (whether an enslaved person or a free one), rendered with impressive sensitivity to skin tones, physiognomy and character. Similarly, a tiny miniature portraiture by Susannah-Penelope Rosse of Nell Gwyn – actress, wit and mistress to Charles II of Britain – shows a face that bounces out from history. Meanwhile, the pencil drawings of women painting or sewing by Fanny Guillaume de Bassoncourt are remarkable for their almost obsessive linear detail.

Nudes are few, since women were not allowed to study life drawing, hampering their progress in what is known, not coincidentally, as draftsmanship. Among the rarest things in this show are three chalk drawings of nudes, two of them male, by the Italian artist Giulia Lama (who did get commissions for large-scale historical and religious work). Their treatment of musculature reveals that Lama was somehow getting access to live models, and the sketches are the only known examples of male nudes drawn from life that can be attributed to a named woman prior to 1800. Meanwhile, a self-portrait by Anne Guéret from 1793 that shows her drawing a nude angel also hints at cracks in the assumed prohibition.

Most women, however, did not attend life drawing classes, and one sometimes senses that lack. Fede Galizia’s Judith with the Head of Holofernes from 1596 is a static thing: The didactic panel notes that the calm, bejewelled Judith is at odds with the violence of her act. What’s missing is the comparison with Gentileschi’s dramatic treatment of the same subject, a painting at the Detroit Institute of Arts that was on show in Baltimore but couldn’t make it to Toronto. If you compare the two in the catalogue, you can see why Gentileschi remains the most famous female artist of the Italian Renaissance.

Next to the Galizia is Amalia von Königsmarck’s almost laughable Allegory with Self-Portrait and Profile Portrait of Ulrika Eleonora the Elder: The Swedish queen and two allegorical figures all seem to share the same face as the artist herself. The exhibition ends with much more convincing self-portraits – a grinning Leyster leaning back from her happy work in 1630; a composed Guéret turning from her sketching – as it records female artists staking their claim to professional recognition by showing themselves with the tools of their trade.

Of course, the solitary celebrity they grasp at is a male construction. The main message in Making her Mark is that you have to look at the categories from a different angle to discover all kinds of women making all kinds of art.

Making Her Mark: A History of Women Artists in Europe 1400-1800 continues at the Art Gallery of Ontario to July 1.

 

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