Artemisia Gentileschi, Self Portrait as Saint Catherine of Alexandria, 1615-17, Oil on Canvas, Collection of National Gallery, London
Lectures & Talks, Adult Classes

LIVESTREAM ART HISTORY LECTURE: Two Women Artists of the Baroque Era

with Elaine French

Wednesday, February 24, 2021 - 6:00 PM

Two women painters with notable accomplishments, Judith Leyster (1609-60) and Artemisia Gentileschi (1593-1653), emerged in the 17th century in Europe. Leyster was part of the Dutch Golden Age of painting, dominated notably by Rembrandt (1606-69), Frans Hals (1582-1666), and Johannes Vermeer (1632-75).  Gentileschi represents the era of the Italian Baroque, whose most important painters were Caravaggio (1571-1610) and Annibale Carracci (1560-1609).  

Not surprisingly, both women’s work and artistic reputations were affected by aspects of their personal experiences.  Although Leyster was highly regarded during her lifetime, her name faded into obscurity as her paintings were attributed either to her husband or to Frans Hals until late in the 19th century.  Gentileschi’s stature suffered a different fate.  Like Leyster she was well regarded, and she traveled widely on commission during her lifetime.  But her work was overlooked in subsequent centuries, and even when she was rediscovered in the early 20th century, her accomplishments were overshadowed by the story of her rape by one of her colleagues.

This lecture will examine similarities and differences in the paintings of these two artists.  What are the shared Baroque elements in both? How did the enormous impact of Caravaggio show up in both women’s work?  What aspects of their paintings are attributable to their shared gender?  And how did their gender impact their career paths?  These and other questions will be considered. These important women artists have recently begun receiving the art historical attention they deserve.

This lecture takes place online on Wed, Feb 24, from 6–7pm.

About the Lecturer

Elaine French holds a Masters in Art History from San Jose State University.  She has taught art history at San Jose State as well as at the College of Southern Idaho and has lectured at Sun Valley Center for the Arts and at the Ketchum Community Library.  Her Masters thesis dealt with an early Italian Renaissance manuscript illumination. After a career in research in education, she has more recently spent her time not only in the field of art history but also on volunteer work in environmental conservation.  She received a Ph.D. in educational psychology from Stanford, an Ed.M. from Harvard, and a B.A. in Art History from Wellesley College.

Image: Artemisia Gentileschi, Self Portrait as Saint Catherine of Alexandria, 1615–17, Oil on Canvas, Collection of National Gallery, London

A SVMoA BIG IDEA project

Part of the BIG IDEA project
Deeds Not Words: Women Working for Change.
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FREE. Livestreamed Online via Crowdcast