It is not often that a major institution like the Dallas Museum of Art will dedicate an entire exhibition to historic female artists. In Women Artists in Europe from the Monarchy to Modernism, the masterpieces span from the late 18th century through the 20th century, which in turn provides museumgoers with a wealth of compositions and artistic styles to view, dependent on the artist’s respective time period.
Of notable interest, the female artists on view in Dallas are relatively unknown today in comparison to their male contemporaries. It is up to pioneering exhibitions, much like the admirable Women Artists in Europe from the Monarchy to Modernism, to shed light onto female masters who have been largely erased from the art historical canon, such as Elisabeth-Louise Vigée Le Brun, the once highly celebrated portraitist of Marie Antoinette or Eva Gonzalès, the accomplished mentee of Édouard Manet.
Historically, female artists have faced colossal barriers throughout their professional careers. Between the 18th and 20th centuries, women rarely received entrance to training academies. Female artists were additionally instructed to discard the medium of oil paint, encouraged to paint with so-called lesser media, like watercolor and pencil.
Until the 1800s, women were barred from studying and sketching nude models, a significant component in learning to illustrate the human form. Despite previous complications, with the rise of modernism in the mid-19th century, female career artists felt less obligated to conform to societal constructs. Artists of all genders experimented with artistic forms, causing an influx of female artists across Europe.
From the refined, unparalleled portraits created by Vigée Le Brun to the visceral illustrations of Käthe Kollwitz, viewers in Dallas witness both the stylistic progression of European art and the exceptional skill of triumphant women artists. Preview highlights above.