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Women artists

Before the 19th century most women painters who enjoyed anything like professional status were the daughters, and often the wives, of male artists. This may be true of Marie Blancour, whose only known painting is in the National Gallery’s collection. 

The rise of the academies of art placed women at a disadvantage; the most prized academic category, history painting, depended on drawing after the male nude, which women were debarred from doing in public. Many women, therefore, specialised in the 'lesser' categories: portraiture, genre, still life, and animal painting.

Rosa Bonheur, Rosalba CarrieraArtemisia GentileschiCatharina van Hemessen, Judith Leyster, Berthe Morisot, Rachel Ruysch, and Vigée Le Brun, were among the most successful and highly paid painters of their day.