When we think of great renaissance artists the first names that would come to most peoples mind would be Leonardo Di Vinci or Michelago. When it is looked at into more depth it would then lead to Giorgio Vasari and the father of Italian renaissance Giotto Di Bondone. Even when you type into Google ‘Great renaissance artists‘ the first names that come up are Michelangelo, Raphael, Sandro Botticelli, Titian, Donatello, Masaccio, Filippo Brunelleschi and other great male artists. As these names are being stated it shows that there is a visible pattern that they are all males and it is rare to recognize a great female renaissance artist.
This then leads to the statement “There were no great women artists in the Renaissance”. During the renaissance period, women artists weren’t recognised as much as male artists and had difficulties getting themselves in the art world. The renaissance was not a time where women artists were accepted and the education given to them were limited. Women during this time were expected get married and start a family and were unwanted in male dominated careers. In Giorgio Vasari’s, ‘The Lives of the Artist’ which is accounts of artists he knew personally and knew of.
He included artists such as Masaccio, Michelangelo, Antonio Pollaiuolo and in fact most of the artists he included in ‘The Lives of the Artists’ are predominately all males and only four female artists are mentioned in the whole six parts of the books, the artists were Rossi, Sister Plautilla, Madonna Lucrezia, and Sofonisba Anguissola. This correlates back to the statement “There were no great women artists in the Renaissance” as this could be evidence that through Vasari’s eyes women artists just weren’t as good as the male artists or it could just be the fact that the female artists didn’t have as much exposure as the males.
To reference Linda Nochlin’s, ‘Why Have There Been No Great Women Artists? ’ there is a quote that says, “There are no great women artists because women are incapable of greatness” which was what most people would have believed during the renaissance period. It also stated that there is a difference between the “greatness” of women’s art in comparison to the men’s. As there is a different style in the women’s art to the males.
Nochlin states that women’s art has a more distinctive and recognizable femininity and it differs from the male’s artworks by both its formal and expressive qualities on the different situation and experience that they have been through. The different style between the women’s artwork to the males could have affected how the audience viewed the women’s work as the audience could have had a different idea of what art was since it art was such a male dominated area. Frances Borzello, “A World of Our Own; Women as Artists” tells us that women went through a lot of struggle to compete with the male artists.
It says that women had to fight for basic training and a chance to practice their art making. For a women to make it as an artist during this time they had get themselves trained to a professional standard, then to practise and be accepted. To go through these steps came with difficulty as women were sometimes excluded from training programmes of apprenticeship and academy or apprenticeships had to be paid for and in those times it was rare to see a parent pay for the education for their daughter as mentioned before, they were expected to marry and have kids.
This would have affected the amount of female artists there could have been as they were often deprived of the education and training needed to start the beginning of becoming a great artist. Although being a female artist during the renaissance period was extremely hard. Some women were very fortunate to be a daughter of an artist, which granted them the training and publicity from their fathers that could lead them to making a living as an artist.
Some female artists that had an artist as a father that guided them were Caterina van Hemessen and Sofonisba Anguissola. In conclusion, the statement “There were no great women artists in the Renaissance” could be answered differently varying the person, as that is what is great about art. That everyone has their own opinions and perceptions of how they view ‘great’ art. Although, renaissance women artists aren’t as widely known as the male artists and had many disadvantages of becoming a successful artist they still existed during the renaissance.
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