In the 19th century, Henrietta Louisa Koenen, wife the Rijksmuseum Print Room’s first director, took a prescient interest in acquiring prints by women artists. These works date from the 16th century, such as a woodcut by Marie de’ Medici, daughter of Grand Duke of Tuscany Francesco I de’ Medici, to the 19th, with hand-colored engravings by Madame Alliot. This month Printing Women: Three Centuries of Female Printmakers, 1570–1900 opened at the New York Public Library’s Stephen A. Schwarzman Building, highlighting this collection for the first time since 1901.
Madeleine Viljoen, curator of prints in the Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints, and Photographs, writes in an accompanying essay that “this group of engravings, etchings, woodcuts, and lithographs by female printmakers demonstrates women have been active in the medium for almost as long as its origins, in the early to mid-15th century.” She adds that while “more recent histories have rightly drawn attention to the longstanding contributions of women to the arts, Koenen’s collection, assembled well before such revisionist accounts were written, demonstrates that printmaking in particular was never just a male endeavor.”
Printing Women includes among its over 80 pieces some supplementary selections from the New York Public Library’s Spencer Collection and the Wallach Division. Taking over two hallways on the top floor of the NYPL’s flagship building on Fifth Avenue, the prints range from amateur experiments to professional works made for commercial sale, each arguing for women’s place in early modern printmaking history. Most of the artists were aristocrats, such as court painter to King Philip II Sofonisba Anguissola, granted the freedom by their position for artistic exploration, as long as they stuck to domestic and romantic scenes rather than grand histories and mythologies that were generally the realm of men.
For example, Princess Sophie of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld, Queen Victoria’s aunt, has a couple of idle 17th-century etchings that act as a sort of sampler of things she was drawn to at the age of 17, with horses, hairstyles, and flowers mingling on a single page. Queen Victoria later practiced printmaking herself, with quiet domestic scenes from her royal life. Other elite women were more adventurous with their subjects, like Maria Anna of Austria, daughter of Holy Roman Emperor Francis I and Empress Maria Theresa, whose 1772 aquatint shows men fighting a fire by a stream, the darkness of the night illuminated by the blaze.
Prints like these were generally shared among friends, although Printing Women has exceptions. Adélaïde Allou, whose biography has mostly vanished into the fog of history, has two 18th-century landscapes that were made for market, and there are women like Maria Sibylla Merian, who in the 17th century researched caterpillars and butterflies, illustrating their witnessed metamorphoses in The Wonderful Transformation of Caterpillars. In the NYPL, a copy of this historic book is open to a page featuring a rose with a small butterfly approaching. Alongside the other prints in black and white and color, there’s a variety of themes and skills that shows how women were working with the same new artistic media as men, even if there were limitations to their access and subjects.
Printing Women: Three Centuries of Female Printmakers, 1570–1900 continues through May 27, 2016 at the Stephan A. Schwarzman Building of the New York Public Library (Fifth Avenue at 42nd Street, Midtown, Manhattan).
Works by the Abeyta family of artists encourage thinking beyond activism and legislation as a means for political progress.
Despite faithfully recreating the story of the beloved comic book series, the TV show lacks the verve of the original.
Choose from over 140 courses for adults and youth ages 13 to 17, including options for beginning, intermediate, and advanced students. Enroll by August 23 for an early bird discount.
A video showing insects crawling inside a framed photograph by artists Bernd and Hilla Becher caused uproar, and disgust, online.
Actor Al Pacino is co-producing the upcoming movie about the tortured Italian artist.
The Brooklyn organization is now accepting new project inquiries for its fee-based fabrication services in printmaking, ceramics, and large-scale public art.
Women at War exposes the struggles that women of Eastern Europe have been undergoing for the last 60 years, in addition to the annihilation of Ukrainian heritage.
Major publishing houses, and some authors, accuse the open access platform of “piracy” and copyright infringement.
The Newark Museum of Art Presents Jazz Greats: Classic Photographs from the Bank of America Collection
Photographers Antony Armstrong Jones, Milt Hinton, Chuck Stewart, Barbara Morgan, and more capture a breadth of legendary and local musicians and performance artists. On view through August 21.
The Roman-era burial ground is located in Anazarbus (modern Anavarza) in the country’s southern Adana province.
Those with a Didion-shaped hole in their hearts can also bid for portraits of the author, her books, and other personal items.
The union seeks a minimum wage of $20 by the end of 2024; the museum offered only $16.