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Groundbreaking Female Artists Of The 18th and 19th Century

Updated on February 23, 2015

Female Pioneers Of The Art World!

Meet some of the most famous, in-demand artists of the 18th and 19th century. And yes, they're all women! In an age where most women were turned away from the art industry, these women defied cultural norms to become some of the most sought-after artists of their time.

First up, France's beloved Marie Elisabeth Vigee-Lebrun! After studying art at the prestigious Royal Academy, Vigee-Lebrun earned a reputation as Marie Antoinette's favorite painter. Like Vigee-Lebrun, artist Rosa Bonheaur became an established painter and served as a pioneering figure in animal painting and landscapes.

Antoine Hortense Haudebourt-Lescot studied in Italy and began showing her works in Salons shortly thereafter; she soon experienced major critical and commercial success, and even became the favorite painter of The Duchess de Berry! Sarah Miriam Peale followed in her famous father's footsteps, renowned American painter James Peale, but the talented young artist went on to carve out her own career as one of Baltimore's preeminent portrait painters.

And last but not least, Mary Cassatt helped define the impressionist art movement, along with contemporaries, Edgar Degas, Camille Pissaro, and Felix Braquemond. Cassatt worked continuously until the late 19th century, producing everything from impressionistic paintings, etchings, and experimental prints. Cassatt is one of the most studied and influential female artists of all time, with her work permanently on display at New York's premiere Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Art Institute of Chicago, Carnegie Museum of Art, and countless institutions worldwide.

Want to learn more about these groundbreaking artists? Read on for more facts, videos, resources, and more!

Watch & Learn! The Life and Work of Mary Cassatt

Learn more about the exciting and rebellious impressionist art movement of which Cassatt was a major figure, and get the inside scoop on her influential stamp on art history in this fascinating podcast/video presentation.

An informative podcast about Cassatt's life and work.

Additional Mary Cassatt Resources and Products For Art Buffs!

Color Your Own Mary Cassatt Masterpieces (Dover Art Coloring Book)
Color Your Own Mary Cassatt Masterpieces (Dover Art Coloring Book)

A coloring book for art history buffs! Dover has a great selection of artist coloring books to choose from.


Rosa Bonheur and Her Mark On Nature Paintings

While Rosa Bonheur may get lost in the shuffle of art history, she's made some of the most iconic landscapes and animal paintings. Learn more about her style, her standout attention to light, landscape works, her soulful animal paintings, and her artistic influences in this great video piece by Khan Academy

More Helpful Resources For Rosa Bonheaur and Her Work

Rosa Bonheur: A Life and a Legend
Rosa Bonheur: A Life and a Legend

Learn just about everything you needed to know about this prolific artist in this info-packed book!


More Resources On Vigee-Lebrun and 18th Century French Art

Artist biographies are truly fascinating and help give a deeper understanding of an artist's work. Other helpful resources include vibrant art books, interactive software, documentaries, and feature films.

Elisabeth Vigée Le Brun: The Odyssey of an Artist in an Age of Revolution
Elisabeth Vigée Le Brun: The Odyssey of an Artist in an Age of Revolution

Learn more about this prolific artist who's considered the most recognized female artist of the 18th century!


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      Elissa Capelle Vaughn 3 years ago from New York

      @paulahite: Thank you! I was actually thinking about adding Artemisia to this as well. I also wanted to discuss Elisabetta Sirani too - her death is an art history mystery!

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      Paula Hite 3 years ago from Virginia

      Great lens! You've touched on two of my favorite female painters. I've been fortunate enough to see both their works and they always take my breathe away. Very different styles. I also love Artemisia Gentileschi. Her father was well known in Renaissance Italy but she was of course persecuted as a female artist.