From 12 May 2023, the Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister in Dresden will be showing the exhibition “Out of the Shadows. Women Artists from the 16th to the 18th Century”. This year the museum is celebrating the 350th birthday of the Venetian pastel painter Rosalba Carriera with a special exhibition. To mark the occasion, a cabinet exhibition focuses on other women artists of the 16th to 18th centuries who, with few exceptions, still lead a shadowy existence alongside the great names of art history.
Fig. above: Therese Concordia Maron, geb. Mengs, Selbstbildnis, um 1744/45, Photo Elke Estel, Hans Peter Klut
The concentrated show brings together around 20 works by nine women artists from the holdings of the Old Masters Picture Gallery and the Kupferstich-Kabinett. In addition to paintings by Lavinia Fontana, Marietta Robusti, Barbara Longhi, Rachel Ruysch, Maria van Oosterwijk and Theresa Concordia Mengs, etchings by Elisabetta Sirani and Angelika Kauffmann as well as copperplate engravings by Diana Scultori are presented.
In the collection of the Gemäldegalerie, female positions are strongly underrepresented. In contrast to their male colleagues, their names are hardly known even today. Only very few women were lucky enough to grow up and be promoted in an artistic environment, so that the institutional and social structures of the time did not hinder their advancement.Often it was the daughters of famous masters who trained in their fathers’ workshops.
Marietta Robusti (c. 1551-1590), Tintoretto’s daughter, was also trained by her father. Nevertheless, we still know little about her person and her oeuvre. A double portrait with the imperial antiquary Jacopo Strada is considered one of the artist’s rare works in which she portrayed herself. In the run-up to the exhibition, the painting was examined in terms of art technology. The first results will be presented at the exhibition.
The cosmopolitan Angelika Kauffmann (1741-1807), celebrated in her time, is represented with five works at once. Confronted with a market in which being an artist was thought of as fundamentally male and women were at most granted talent but not genius, the painter nevertheless managed to assert herself as a well-connected and clever strategist. Encouraged by her father, she went through a remarkable career and was internationally known. In her history paintings with ancient themes, she naturally places female figures at the centre of composition and action.
Lavinia Fontana (1552-1614) is considered one of the first female artists of the modern era to work independently. She created numerous portraits and history paintings with mythological and biblical themes, some of which she realised in large formats. The Dresden devotional painting “The Holy Family” is an early work by the Bolognese painter, which was recently examined and restored in the restoration workshop of the Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister. The analyses provided important insights into Fontana’s painting materials and techniques, which will also be presented in a major monographic exhibition at the National Gallery of Ireland in Dublin. For this reason, the painting will not be on view in Dresden until mid-August.
The exhibition will be accompanied by a catalogue published by Sandstein Verlag: Aus dem Schatten. Female Artists from the 16th to the 18th Century, ed.: Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden, 144 pages, expected publication date: 12 May 2023, ISBN 978-3-95498-755-9.
Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister Dresden
Exhibition dates: Friday, 12 May – Sunday, 20 August 2023
Daily 10-18 h, Monday closed
Regular €14, reduced €10.50, under 17 free, from 10 pers. €12.50