Course Code
HARC 0086
Course Type
Subject Credit
Course Availability

The #metoo movement has prompted a fresh consideration of the role and achievements of women artists. This tutorial/seminar examines the cultural contributions of European women, 1400- 1700, as artists, writers, and patrons. We investigate the social and economic status of Renaissance women, and the restrictions they faced, but also the way in which they overcame barriers, and the wider impact of their activities on their better-known male contemporaries. We focus on the works of individual artists and writers, and also examine the role of elite women in fostering cultural networks, as patrons of artists and writers, and as art collectors.  

It is an extraordinary thing that in all those arts and all those exercises wherein at any time women have thought fit to play a part in real earnest, they have always become most excellent and famous in no common way. Giorgio Vasari, (1568).

Sample Syllabus

  1. Vasari’s women: Female painters and sculptors celebrated in his Lives, and the impact of their fame on succeeding generations of women artists.
  2. Christine de Pisan and Elizabeth I’s tapestries: City of Ladies and queenly magnificence.
  3. Vittoria Colonna’s literary salon: Michelangelo, Ariosto, Aretino, Bembo.
  4. Sofonisba Anguissola and Elizabeth de Valois: Women artists at the royal court of Madrid.
  5. Elisabetta Gonzaga and Baldassare Castiglione’s Il Cortegiano: Urbino, the ideal court.
  6. Isabella d’Este: Collector of genius.
  7. Fathers and daughters: Catharina and Jan Sanders van Hemessen; Artemisia and Orazio Gentileschi.
  8. Lavinia Fontana: Artist, Mother, Breadwinner.