Unveiling the Hidden Legacy of European Women Artists: 'Making Her Mark' Exhibition

Step into a world that shatters gender norms and redefines artistic excellence. The Baltimore Museum of Art proudly presents 'Making Her Mark' exhibition, a groundbreaking survey that unveils the hidden legacy of European women artists from 1400-1800. Prepare to unmask their true scale and range of contributions as we challenge the traditional narrative and embrace a more inclusive and diverse art history.

Elevating Women Artists: Beyond Painting and Sculpture

Explore the diverse range of artistic endeavors by European women beyond the traditional dominance of painting and sculpture.

A New Perspective on European Art History

The traditional narrative of Western art history has largely focused on a selective group of male artists and their works, particularly in large-scale painting and sculpture. However, 'Making Her Mark' exhibition defies these limitations by showcasing the contributions of European women artists across a broad range of artistic mediums. Step inside and expand your understanding of the rich tapestry of women's artistic accomplishments in fields such as royal portraiture, devotional sculpture, tapestries, clothing and lace, metalwork, ceramics, furniture, and more. This groundbreaking exhibition demands not just gender equality, but also inclusivity in recognizing and appreciating diverse forms of artistic expression.

A Whisper Among Masterpieces

While dominant male artists are known for their monumental and grandiose masterpieces, often displayed in imposing cathedrals and public spaces, the artistic achievements of European women became hidden whispers of delicate magnitude within the intimate spaces of the home. Through 'Making Her Mark,' these often overlooked and underrated creations emerge from the shadows, inviting us to listen to their soft but profound voices. By illuminating the contributions of women working on an intimate scale, this exhibition poignantly challenges our predefined notions of artistic quality and sets the stage for a more comprehensive and inclusive understanding of Western art history.

Collaboration and Collective Making

Unveil the unseen by exploring the collaborative efforts and workshop settings embraced by women artists throughout history.

Breaking Away from Individual Stardom

Vasari's influential 'The Lives of the Most Eminent Painters, Sculptors and Architects' introduced a historical norm that emphasized individual success as the measure of artistic excellence. However, 'Making Her Mark' challenges this biased framework and unveils the role of women artists working collaboratively in workshops and other collaborative settings. The power of collective making and the invaluable contributions of women in sustaining artistic businesses, even after the death of husbands who worked in the field, emerge as the hidden threads that intricately weave the tapestry of European art history.

Consider the compelling stories of widows confounding gender limitations by taking on their husbands' artistic businesses, ensuring that the workshops operated and thrived. These women also brought fresh talent to the fold and revitalized businesses, establishing their mark in the artistic world. Alongside these inspiring tales of collaboration, 'Making Her Mark' reveals the wealth of silent but significant labor in artistic production carried out by women and girls. From gilding wood details for furniture and framing to embellishing ceramics and participating in book publication, women played an indispensable role, though their names often go unnoticed in history's records.

From Anomalies to Professionals: Dissecting the Myth of the 'Exceptional' Woman Artist

Challenge preconceived notions and uncover the true experiences of European women artists pursuing professional careers.

Their Path: Extraordinary Lives and Exceptional Accomplishments

'Making Her Mark' leads us through a transformative journey that reshapes the perception of European women artists beyond the label of anomalies or exceptional cases. While some notable figures, such as Artemisia Gentileschi, achieved recognition and favor within royal courts, the majority of women makers had experiences that were far from extraordinary in a society that limited their access to traditional pathways of artistic success.

It's time to disentangle these rigid notions of exceptionalism that only heap praise upon women artists who conform to male-determined standards of artistic achievement. 'Making Her Mark' unveils an alternate reality where all women makers found value and authenticity in their unique contributions. Above and beyond large-scale painting and sculpture—designed to meet patriarchal ideals of 'serious' and 'important' art—we rediscover the untold stories of women working across manuscripts, printmaking, textile production, ceramics, silversmithing, fashion, paper quilling, and embroidery. Can we redefine success and widen our perspective to truly appreciate the expansive range of talent and imagination these remarkable women possessed?

Unveiling Forgotten Artistic Legacies

Discover the hidden contributions of European women artists throughout history, delving into the realms of manuscript illumination, printmaking, and lace production.

Breaking out of Hierarchies: Manuscripts, Printmaking, and Lace

As we journey through 'Making Her Mark,' we demarcate hidden trails of accomplishment embedded within the work of European women artists. In the exploration of manuscript illumination, the intricate craftsmanship and imaginative illustrations enchant the viewer, yet so often the identities of these artistic contributors disappear within the pages. Uncover the forgotten legacy of women printers who played pivotal roles in the history of book publication, shattering traditional male domination within this field. Lace, too, feathers delicately on the creative tapestry woven by these talented women who patiently worked their magic in convents and orphanages—their names merely whispers, yet their artistry, unmatched.

'Making Her Mark' empowers us not only to appreciate these forgotten artistic legacies but to look beyond established hierarchies and redefine the narrative of European art history. Can we revise the books, dig deeper into records, and acknowledge the profound impact of women's contributions across myriad artistic mediums, bridging a long-overdue gap in our understanding of Western cultural heritage?


'Making Her Mark' exhibition at the Baltimore Museum of Art represents a groundbreaking shift in art history, as it challenges traditional narratives and elevates the often untold and overlooked contributions of European women artists from 1400-1800. Through this captivating exploration, we delve into the depths of diverse artistic mediums, collaborative efforts, and forgotten legacies. By breaking away from the constraints of painting and sculpture and rediscovering the remarkable talents of these women, we reshape art history, paving the way for a more inclusive and comprehensive understanding of Western cultural heritage. Visit the exhibition and immerse yourself in a world where the whispers of women artists become resonating voices, reshaping the course of art history.


Why is it important to showcase European women artists from 1400-1800?

Highlighting the contributions of European women artists from 1400-1800 is essential as it disrupts the traditionally male-dominated art historical narratives and provides a more inclusive perspective of Western cultural heritage. It challenges notions of what constitutes 'serious' or 'important' art, expanding the scope of recognized art forms and mediums.

What role did collaborative efforts play in the artistic endeavors of European women artists?

Collaboration was instrumental in the artistic endeavors of European women artists. By working collectively in workshops or continuing their deceased husbands' artistic businesses, women formed vital networks, ensured creative enterprises continued, and provided opportunities for future talents. Their collaborative efforts shattered gendered limitations and diversified the artistic landscape.

How does 'Making Her Mark' pave the way for a more comprehensive understanding of art history?

'Making Her Mark' goes beyond traditional narratives and presents a diverse range of artistic mediums employed by European women artists. This exhibition reevaluates the often-dismissed fields of manuscript illumination, printmaking, lace production, and more. By delving into these rich artistic contributions, the exhibition unravels forgotten legacies and challenges the singular role of traditional painting and sculpture, enriching our understanding of Western art history.

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