To celebrate 8 March, Judith Urbano holds a lecture about women artists throughout history

On International Women's Day, Cases Singulars organised a series of guided tours and a conference: “Women artists paint unique women”. The speaker, Judith Urbano, dean and lecturer of the Faculty of Humanities, looks back through the history of art, examining portraits and self-portraits by a selection of female artists from different eras and styles.

According to Urbano, there have always been women artists, painters and sculptors, “the problem is that we don’t know about them because they were erased by 19th century art history, which is the one we tend to study. It was only after the 1960s that we began to gradually recover them”.

By way of a journey through the self-portraits and portraits of a selection of women over the centuries, Urbano spoke about artists such as Judith Leysler and Sofonisba Anguissola from the 16th century; Artemisia Gentileschi from the 17th century; Rosalba Carriera, Elizabeth Vigee-Lebrun from the 18th century; and Rosa Bonheur, Berthe Morisot and Luisa Vidal from the 19th century.

“Does this mean that they were second-rate painters? No, far from it. In fact,” explained the dean of Humanities, “many were court painters for kings and queens and had important clients, just like male painters did”. Urbano showed many examples of the work of these women.  “One proof that they were good,” she says, “is that many of their paintings have been attributed to men, to well-known painters. It was only later that we discovered that they were theirs”.

Urbano pointed out that it is also necessary to “take into account the difficulty they faced in their respective eras to survive in a man’s world, and the fact that they did not have the same opportunities. Fortunately, many were daughters of artists, which made it easier for them, but this was not always the case”.

The lack of female representation in the official history of art is a deficiency that is being addressed from within the academic sphere, by recovering the biographies of outstanding women. Lecturer Judith Urban's talk at Cases Singulars was one example of this.

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