Books

Now You See Us: Women Artists in Britain 1520–1920

ISBN: 9781849768818
Artist(s): Various
Author(s): Tabitha Barber, Tim Batchelor
Format: paperback
Edition: First Edition
Year published: 2024
Publisher: Tate
Total Pages: 224
Illustrations: 150

£32.00

From Tudor times to the First World War, Now You See Us: Women Artists in Britain 1520–1920 will chart the journey of women to becoming professional artists. From Levina Teerlinc, a miniaturist at the court of Elizabeth I, to Laura Knight, the first woman to be elected a member of the Royal Academy after a gap of more than 150 years, women have been a constant presence in the art world, conducting commercially successful careers and exhibiting in public exhibitions. Against society’s expectations of wives, mothers and daughters, limited to the private domestic sphere, they dared to pursue public careers, and to paint history pieces, battle scenes and the nude, usually regarded as the preserve of men.

An examination of figures such as Mary Beale, Angelica Kauffman, Elizabeth, Lady Butler and many more will reveal careers very far from the stereotypical view of women as amateur watercolourists, pursuing art as a ladylike accomplishment. Instead, they are revealed as professional women who navigated the art world despite being excluded from academy training and art institution membership, and who were determined to succeed despite the obstacles they faced. In English Female Artists, 1876, Ellen Creathorne Clayton wrote that women artists had ‘left only but faintly impressed footprints on the sands of time’.

By looking at what women painted, how their work was received by exhibition critics, what women said themselves about their status in the art world, including their links to campaigns for women’s rights, Women Artists in Britain will shine a spotlight on their true legacy and place in art history.

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