Women of the Walker

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Painting of angel

The Sense of Sight (1895) by Annie Swynnerton, to feature in The Rise of Women Artists exhibition.

I was very interested in an article in the Guardian by Syma Tariq on women artists and institutional collecting. The Walker Art Gallery has been collecting work by women artists since its foundation in the 1870s. These works, which now form perhaps the best collection of historic art by women in a public gallery in England, span from the 16th century to the present day. Artists include Lavinia Fontana and Rosalba Carriera, but what do we call them? Old Masters obviously not, but the alternative Old Mistresses is worse! A clear demonstration of the art historical bias.

Our exhibition, The Rise of Women Artists (opens on 23 October 2009), will examine historical changes affecting women, looking at their status and careers as they moved to assert themselves as artists in their own right. It will also highlight the breadth of the Walker’s collection. In fact such is the strength of the collection of work by women, that some key works can’t be included in the large exhibition space, but will instead feature in a tour of other works by female artists in the rest of the galllery.

The exhibition features work by Vigee-Lebrun and Angelica Kauffman as well as less well known artists of the 19th century such as Annie Swynnerton. Contemporary artists including Louise Bourgeoisand Paula Rego will complete the journey to the present day.