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Women In A Male Art World — By Her ­Hand: Artemisia Gentileschi and Women Artists in Italy: 1500-1800

The Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art’s upcoming exhibit By Her ­Hand: Artemisia Gentileschi and Women Artists in Italy: 1500-1800 (Sept. 30, 2021 through Jan. 9, 2022) brings to Connecticut paintings by Italian women in a male-dominated art world.

Who do you think of when you think of Italian art?

Michelangelo? Botticelli? Caravaggio? Bernini? And in contemporary times, Modigliani.

Why haven’t we heard of the women?

In Connecticut, girls were making needlework schoolgirl art that evolved into samplers — the more intricate and beautiful, the higher the young woman’s eligibility as a wife.

The sociologist Taylor Whitten Brown in an Art Market 2019 report pointed out that in “more explicitly sexist eras of art history, the textile arts were a medium that women were permitted and encouraged to adopt.” Brown cites architect Walter Gropius, founder of the Bauhaus School, that women worked best in two dimensions, and they should weave instead of studying architecture and design.

And in Old Lyme, female American impressionists created masterpieces at the Florence Griswold artists’ colony in Old Lyme.


  • Oliver Tostmann - Curator, By Her ­Hand: Artemisia Gentileschi and Women Artists in Italy, Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art
  • Brandy Culp - Curator, American Decorative Arts, Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art
  • Rebekah Beaulieu - Director, Florence Griswold Museum
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