A Space of Their Own, a New Online Database, Will Feature Works by 600+ Overlooked Female Artists from the 15th-19th Centuries

Many of the works we found—well, nobody knew they were there. Nobody knew any­thing about the artists. … They weren’t impor­tant, but rather behold­en to their fathers, moth­ers, and hus­bands. They had no voice.   

— Jane For­tune, Founder of Advanc­ing Women Artists (AWA)

The paint­ings, draw­ings, prints, and sculp­tures the late Jane For­tune refers to above were dis­cov­ered in muse­um stor­age spaces through­out Flo­rence.

Many of their female cre­ators were acclaimed dur­ing their life­times. By the time For­tune set about restor­ing their work—and vis­i­bil­i­ty —to the pub­lic view, they were vir­tu­al­ly unknown, even to muse­um staff.

Saint Cather­ine with Lily by Plau­til­la Nel­li

That may change as ear­ly as the fall of 2019, when A Space of Their Own, an illus­trat­ed online data­base of over 600 female artists work­ing in the US and Europe between the 15th and 19th cen­turies, launch­es.

In prepa­ra­tion for their rein­tro­duc­tion, many of the works appear­ing on A Space of Their Own have under­gone exten­sive restora­tion, cour­tesy of Jane For­tune’s non­prof­it Advanc­ing Women Artists.

David and Bathshe­ba by Artemisia Gen­tileschi

Inter­est­ing­ly, women make up the major­i­ty of art restor­ers in Flo­rence. This pro­fes­sion­al dom­i­nance can be traced back to the mid-60s, when a cat­a­stroph­ic flood laid waste to mil­lions of the city’s art trea­sures. “It was the first time women began wear­ing trousers in Flo­rence,” Lin­da Fal­cone, AWA’s cur­rent direc­tor told art­net. “Women’s lib­er­a­tion in Flo­rence is deeply linked to the art restora­tion effort.”

Many of the artists in the data­base were self-taught, barred from seek­ing for­mal train­ing or study­ing anato­my on account of their gen­der. They could not hope to make a liv­ing from their tal­ents when women were for­bid­den from issu­ing invoic­es. And then, of course, there are the demands of mar­riage and moth­er­hood.

Small won­der they have been so under­rep­re­sent­ed in muse­ums and art his­to­ry books.

Self-por­trait by Leonet­ta Pier­ac­ci­ni Cec­chi

Peruse a menu of paint­ings in need of restora­tion spon­sor­ship and learn more about the artists on AWA’s web­site. Sign up for the newslet­ter for updates in advance of A Space of Their Own’s grand open­ing.

via Hyper­al­ler­gic

Relat­ed Con­tent:

The Female Pio­neers of the Bauhaus Art Move­ment: Dis­cov­er Gertrud Arndt, Mar­i­anne Brandt, Anni Albers & Oth­er For­got­ten Inno­va­tors

The Icon­ic Uri­nal & Work of Art, “Foun­tain,” Wasn’t Cre­at­ed by Mar­cel Duchamp But by the Pio­neer­ing Dada Artist Elsa von Frey­tag-Lor­ing­hoven

The Cre­ativ­i­ty of Female Graf­fi­ti & Street Artists Will Be Cel­e­brat­ed in Street Hero­ines, a New Doc­u­men­tary

Ayun Hal­l­i­day is an author, illus­tra­tor, the­ater mak­er and Chief Pri­ma­tol­o­gist of the East Vil­lage Inky zine.  Join her in NYC on Mon­day, Novem­ber 12 for anoth­er month­ly install­ment of her book-based vari­ety show, Necro­mancers of the Pub­lic Domain. Fol­low her @AyunHalliday.

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Comments (30)
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  • TOP 3 Shortener URL says:

    This post is nice, and awe­some explaina­tion.
    feel free to check­out-TOP 3 short­en­er URL

  • Brandy Devoid says:

    Hey I was won­der­ing how i could get my art linked to your sight? A friend just ref­ered me to you.

  • Sharon Jackson says:

    This is absolute­ly mar­velous. The self por­trait of Leonet­ta Pier­ac­ci­ni Cec­chi is par­tic­u­lar­ly beau­ti­ful. And to think she had no train­ing! That is aston­ish­ing. I can hard­ly wait until these are all on line. Thanks for this.

  • Taniya says:

    I think this is a great resource for artists espe­cial­ly inspir­ing for women artists.

  • Kate Griffin says:


  • Theresa Lynn Ast says:

    Amaz­ing! Glo­ri­ous! Won­der­ful! Many thanks. :)

  • Christine says:

    Is there any plan to even­tu­al­ly include works by women artists from oth­er regions of the world? Sure­ly, women from Africa, Asia, South Amer­i­ca, Mex­i­co, etc have been artists as well?

  • Ellen Dreibelbis says:

    What a won­der­ful site! Does one have to be dead to be on this web­site? It’s a lit­tle hard on the artist.

  • David says:

    Yes sui­cide is required if you’re still alive and want your work includ­ed now.

  • Mary Redenius says:

    I’m just delight­ed that a friend post­ed this to me. What an extra­or­di­nary under­tak­ing and web­site!

  • Gailseckler says:

    Nan­cy. How very inter­est­ing!

  • Joan Giard says:

    This is awe­some! Thank you!

  • Kris Coty says:

    Thank you for open­ing my eyes even more. I looked into Fres­co Art school to learn recon­di­tion­ing years ago…went to Chef school, Le Cor­don Bleu instead.
    Dream would still be to recon­di­tion in Italy, esp. now, “women cre­at­ed Fres­cos…

  • Adalberto di Spilimbergo says:

    avete con­sid­er­a­to l’op­por­tu­nità di esam­inare l’opera del­la pit­trice dei pri­mi del ‘500 Irene di SPILIMBERGO ( mia lon­tana ante­na­ta), allie­va del Tiziano, del­la quale è pre­sente un ritrat­to alla Nation­al Gallery di Wash­ing­ton? Le sue opere sono pochissime, dato che morì a soli 21 anni, ma la sua fama anco­ra rimane nel­la sua ter­ra d’o­rig­ine, il Friuli. A Spilim­ber­go, cit­tà sul Taglia­men­to in priv­in­cia di Por­de­none, c’è una scuo­la (famosa) di mosaico a lei
    intes­ta­ta. Cor­diali salu­ti Adal­ber­to di Spilim­ber­go


    Thanks for launch­ing this project. It is a well of knowl­edge that will yield mate­ri­als on wom­en’s painters prac­ti­cal­ly unknown. As a researcher of women artists I wel­come this ini­tia­tive with open arms.


  • BG Dodson says:

    A friend of mine has been writ­ing arti­cles regard­ing over-looked female artists of the past. Her work is at http://trans-ddigitalart.blogspot.com/

  • Rebecca Tallman says:

    After scrolling down the entire list under “cat­e­gories”, I am very dis­ap­point­ed to see that “Women” is not list­ed. I hope you will rec­ti­fy this in the near future.

  • E says:

    Gosh, I thought entry fees were bad enough!

  • Grace says:

    You have to be dead. And also have lived dur­ing the 15th—19th cen­turies

  • Meghan says:

    Wow, they get their own space because, appar­ent­ly, they still aren’t good enough to be fea­tured with the male artists. Um… thanks?

  • Jackie Peterson says:

    I am an artist woman can my name be includ­ed on the list?

    Thank­ing you

  • Christa Zaat says:

    This arti­cle is of 9 Novem­ber 2018. We are near­ly 8 months fur­ther. Where is this data­base? Is there a link?

  • Rosann says:

    I too would like to see the data base.
    I’d also like to buy prints of these works—could that be a finan­cial sup­port?

  • Lesley says:

    I would love to be informed when the data base is up and run­ning.
    Thank you

  • bergljot kjartansdottir says:

    Yes, indeed, I would love to be informed when the data base is up and run­ning. This is a huge­ly impor­tant ini­tia­tive.

    When back in the ear­ly eight­iees I was teach­ing art I want­ed to gath­er as much infor­ma­tion about female artists through the cen­turies as pos­si­ble. I got a lot out of look­ing into this whole a lit­tle for­get­ten area my self but oth­ers wern´t that much inter­est­ed… women and art wasn´t real­ly the trend at the time.…things do change for­tu­nate­ly.

    Again, I very much wel­come your efforts.

    Thank you

  • Tracey Collins says:

    This is very excit­ing, and also very time­ly. I am inter­est­ed to know more about how it is pro­gress­ing.
    Thanks much Tracey

  • Mimi says:

    Of course. One require­ment — you have to prove you lived between 15th and 19th cen­tu­ry.

  • Laurie Leonard says:

    I love the arti­cle on the Wom­yn artists and restring their work. It would be won­der­ful to have them all in one space.
    I do have to com­ment that I dis­liked the music that played with the video awful! It too boun­cy and bright. I didn’t find it sup­port­ing the film at all.

  • Bob says:

    This is fan­tas­tic.

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