“The Merry Drinker” by Judith Leyster who led the Dutch Golden Age in the 17th century had been known as her teacher Frans Hals’ until the end of the 19th century. She joined the Dutch association of painters, which rarely allowed female artists as members, at the age of 24 with outstanding skills. However, her name was forgotten in art history due to social prejudices against women.
The writer introduces as an art historian the lives of female painters who had been out of the spotlight from the 16th century until now and their 60 art pieces. Sofonisba Anguissola from Italy lived in the 16th Renaissance era when art classes were prohibited for women. Her “Self-portrait at an Easel” is known as the first self-portrait by a female painter. Her face looking straight ahead with a palette and a brush reveals her determination to get recognized only for her skills.
Women could not take art classes at public schools until the late 19th century, 300 years after the Renaissance era. French painter Suzanne Valadon worked as a model for other artists to watch and learn how to paint. The figure in her well-known piece, “The Blue Room,” smokes a cigarette lying down on a bed in a pair of striped pants and a camisole. The bold colors and energetic brush strokes show Valadon’s unique style.