#5WomenArtists: celebrating female artists from across Europe

Ask someone to name five artists and responses are likely to include famous European names such as Picasso, van Gogh, Monet, da Vinci — all male artists. Ask them to name five women artists, and the question poses more of a challenge.

Last year, in honour of Women’s History Month, the National Museum of Women in the Arts launched a social media campaign asking just that, addressing the gender imbalance in how art is presented, assuring great women artists a place of honour now and in the future.

To answer this question, we’ve selected artwork by five female artists to highlight a small selection of important and significant artists from across Europe and throughout history.

Anna Maria van Schurman

Anna Maria van Schurman was a 17th century German-born Dutch artist known for paintings and engravings. In 1636 she studied at Utrecht University, becoming the first female university student of Europe.

In addition to her visual art, Schurman was a poet and scholar and was proficient in 14 languages.

portrait of woman with curly hair

Self portrait by Anna Maria van Schurman, Österreichische Nationalbibliothek, Public Domain Marked

Portrait of a Lady, Anna Maria van Schurman, Nationalmuseum, Sweden, Public Domain Marked

Anna Ancher

Danish artist Anna Ancher is regarded as one of the Denmark’s most important Impressionists. She was born in 1859 in Skagen, Denmark’s northernmost and remotest region, and studied drawing in Copenhagen and Paris. After marrying fellow artist Michael Ancher in 1880, Anna continued to paint the landscapes and people of Skagen, defying the convention that married women should devote themselves to household duties.

group of people standing over a coffin in a small room

A Funeral, Anna Ancher, Statens Museum for Kunst, CC0

4 people plucking feathers from dead geese

Plucking the Geese, Anna Ancher, Statens Museum for Kunst, CC0

Rosalba Carriera

Rosalba Carriera, a Venetian Rococo painter who lived between 1673 and 1757, is known for her portraits. Initially painting miniatures for the lids of snuff-boxes, her work later evolved into portrait-painting, for which she pioneered the exclusive use of pastel. She went on to paint portraits of nobility and royalty across Europe.

portrait of a young woman

Young Woman with a Wreath of Laurels, Rosalba Carriera, Nationalmuseum, Sweden, Public Domain Marked

portrait of a man with long curly hair

Portrit of unknown man, Rosalba Carriera, Nationalmuseum, Sweden, Public Domain Marked

Berthe Morisot

Berthe Morisot was a Impressionist painter in 19th century France who portrayed a wide range of subjects, from landscapes and still lifes, to domestic scenes and portraits. Although married to the artist Eugène Manet, she chose to exhibit under her maiden name instead of using a pseudonym or her married name.

two woman in a garden, one sitting, the other is standing

In the Bois de Boulogne, Berthe Morisot, Nationalmuseum, Sweden, Public Domain Marked

two figures seat in sketched landscape seen

On the beach in Nice, Berthe Morisot, Nationalmuseum, Sweden, Public Domain Marked

Natalia Goncharova

Artist Natalia Goncharova was a painter, costume designer, writer, illustrator and set designer. Born in Russia in 1881, she was a major artist of the Russia avant-garde movement in the early 1900s. As a designer she was notable for her set and costume creations for ballet and theatre, particularly in Paris where she moved in 1921 and lived until her death in 1962.

abstract image with animal figure

Carousel, Natalia Goncharova, Szépmuvészeti Múzeum, CC BY-NC-ND

image showing a cityscape

Neighbourhood, Natalia Goncharova, Szépművészeti Múzeum CC BY-NC-ND

By Adrian Murphy, Europeana Foundation

9 thoughts on “#5WomenArtists: celebrating female artists from across Europe

  1. Thank you for this article. I enjoyed reading it! There are more great hidden women artists out there! I live in Lebanon, and I am amazed how many women artists this small country brought up, all somehow nourished by European art, Etel Adnan, Saloua Raouda Shoukair, Helen Khal, Huguette Caland…..

  2. Excelente! As Escolas de artes devem ensinar que ser artista não é uma questão de gênero!

  3. Love all the posts and introducing these amazing women to my U3A Understanding Art Group which of course mostly studies male artists.
    Just started collection of books about women artists. Amazing you are sharing this knowledge. Thank you

  4. Good blog but please check your facts. Berthe Morisot was NOT married to Édouard Manet. She was married to his younger brother EUGENE Manet.

    1. Hi Lena, good point, well-spotted, thank you. We have updated the blog now with the correct information.

  5. Morisot ¿fue una pintora impres???
    ¿Casada con un pintor???
    Gracias por este estudio y abrazos a todas las mujeres silenciadas e/o invisibles Fuencisla Francès

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