Monday, December 7, 2015

Women in a Male-Dominated Field

The following collection focuses on demonstrating insight into just how women artists of the 18th and early 19th century were attempting to establish themselves into a male-dominated field. Throughout the 18th and early 19th century women artists were fighting to establish themselves into the art world due to the challenges of restrictions, lack of education, and the biggest challenge being that they were entering into a male-dominated field.  Despite France’s Académie Royale de Peinture et de Sculpture setting a limit to the women they admitted as well as restrictions keeping women from attending classes for art classes, women were among the most sought-after artists in Paris in the 1780s. Although there were a multitude of critics whom applauded the new reputation of women artists, others viewed it as pure arrogance for women who displayed their skills so publically. Royal women were the biggest advocates for women artists during this time as they supported their work. Unfortunately, the onset of the French Revolution created harsh conditions for these artists who had been supported by royal families as many of the royal families left France. However, in the early 19th century women began to turn to established artists, such as Charles Chaplin, as well as attending private academies. Therefore, many paintings especially when it comes to paintings of young women, which were formerly attributed to male artists such as Jacques Louis David, now have been discovered to have been painted by women artists. This curation will demonstrate insight into just how women artists of this time period were attempting to establish themselves into a male-dominated field. 

Charlotte du Val d’Ogne, or Young Woman Drawing, Marie Denise Villers, 1801, Oil on canvas, 17.120.204

Villers, being restricted from classes, took the route of aligning herself with an established artist, Anne Louis Girodet-Trioson, and was a gifted pupil of his and even exhibited in the Salons. Many of her portraits attracted attention, especially this one as it is still unknown whether it is a portrait or a self-portrait. At one time Charlotte du Val d’Ogne, or Young Woman Drawing, was even attributed to a male artist, Jacques-Louis David; however, when it became identified as the work of Villers this engaging image caught the attention of many through the important debate of who made it. This debate was important due to the fact that at this time a women’s work was less valued than a male artists.

Edouard Manet, Portrait of Eva Gonzales, 1870, oil on canvas, WikiArt, National Gallery

Similar to Charlotte du Val d’Ogne, or Young Woman Drawing, viewers may perceive this painting as one of two things: a self-portrait or a portrait. It can be viewed as a self-portrait due to the fact that she is an artist herself as well as a women trying to establish herself in the field. It can be viewed as a portrait due to the fact that the artist can actually see her work. The title, along with the action of her painting an actual work that can be seen by the viewers, portrays this painting as a portrait of her rather than a self-portrait. 

Charles Chaplin, A Young Girl Drawing, 1860-66, oil on panel, B.M. 698, Bowes Museum

Though this painting is produced by a popular male artist, he is advocating woman artists during this time period. Chaplin was a well-known artist who offered classes to young women while the rest of society restricted them. In addition, his portrayal of a young girl in the act of studiously painting allows viewers to see that Chaplin supports this new reputation. Through depicting this young girl as concentrated on creating a work, as well as displaying previous work in the background, viewers can recognize that Chaplin believes in women artists emerging into this male-dominated field.

Adélaïde Labille-Guiard, Self-Portrait with Two Pupils, 1785, oil on canvas, 53.225.5

Adélaïde Labille-Guiard was admitted to the French Academy along with only three other women artists. This picture reflects her earlier training through the use of her rich palette and fine detatil. This work has been perceived as a propaganda piece arguing for the restriction of how many women can be admitted into the Academy to be released. In comparison to Charlotte du Val d’Ogne, or Young Woman Drawing, the artist’s femininity is displayed through her fashionable dress, which is heightened by the presence of her pupils. Unlike her fellow women artists in the Academy she decided to participate in the Revolution rather than to leave France.

Marie Victoire Lemoine, The Interior of an Atelier of a Woman Painter, 1789, oil on canvas, 57. 103

The Interior of an Atelier of a Woman Painter demonstrates the practice and belief that women are working hard to be established into the male-dominated field. Through the depiction of a young girl copying the art of an older woman viewers can perceive that older, more experienced women artists are working to educate younger girls due to the fact that society will not. The painting is interpreted as a protagonist of female artists as well as a tribute from one woman artist to another.

Anna Klumpke, Rosa Bonheur, 1898, oil on canvas, 22.222

Similarly to Charlotte du Val d’Ogne, or Young Woman Drawing, Anna Klumpke’s Rosa 
Bonheur demonstrated the representation of a “New Woman” of the 19th century through 
becoming successful artists. In addition, artwork produced by women artists were considered 
inferior to men’s work and both these artists helped overcome that stereotype. On the contrary, Klumpke portrays Rosa Bonheur as a masculine woman due to the fact that she dressed like a man in order to assert herself in the male-dominated field. Whereas, Charlotte du Val d’Ogne is depicted as very feminine and portrays to viewers that feminitity does not define whether you can be established into this male-dominated world or not. 

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