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Great painters, daughters of great painters
Articles | 17 MAR 2022 Por Valeria Correa

It is no secret that women have been almost entirely omitted from the history of art. It seems that there were no female painters, engravers or sculptors until the 20th century, considering that names like Frida Kahlo and Remedios Varo are already familiar to the public.

The history of art does not bear all the responsibility – but it does bear the majority – that several women were cast aside despite being highly talented and/or famous artists in life. Some found themselves underestimated and pigeonholed in the shadow of their teachers and their artist parents, who were often the same person at times. That is why in this article we will talk about the lives of 3 excellent female artists, whose teachers and parents were also great painters.

Artemisia Gentileschi (1593-1656)

Among the Italian painters who stood out in the Baroque period, Caravaggio is considered the best of all to date. Thanks to his fame and the admiration for his painting, a group of artists decided to take him as an influence and create the school of those who would be known as Caravaggists.

Among the Caravaggists there was a highly enthusiastic member of the chiaroscuro master's style, this was Orazio Gentileschi, however, he would not be the best exponent of this school. His daughter and student, Artemisia Gentileschi was so gifted and talented at painting that today it is easy to confuse her works with those of Caravaggio if she has not been carefully observed and studied.

As it is easy to suppose, Artemisia did not have an easy life as a woman in the 17th century and even less so as a woman artist. That said, the reality is that the artist is not only admirable for her mastery with oil and visual language – she made very good allegories and her characters were quite expressive – she also had a relentless attitude towards life and the injustices she had to face. spend. Overcoming violence, abuse, and betrayal, Gentileschi became the first woman to join Florence's Accademia delle arti del disegno, was commissioned by the powerful Medici family, traveled and worked in various Italian cities, and was successful enough in life to enjoy international clientele.

Katsushika Ōi (1800*-1866* exact dates unknown)

If we talk about Japanese art, it is possible that the first thing that comes to mind is Hokusai, the creator of The Great Wave off Kanagawa (1830-1833) and the most famous exponent of Ukiyo-e. However, this great teacher had a disciple whom he valued and recognized above the rest of his students, his daughter Katsushika Ōi.

Ōi is said to have been born when Hokusai was 37 years old, a somewhat advanced age for the time. The life of this artist had passed without highly remarkable events until her divorce, after which she returned to her father's house and the great story of this pair really began.

There are testimonies from other apprentices of Hokusai about the person that Ōi was. As similar as two drops of water in character, both were free spirits, impetuous and marked as eccentrics who dedicated themselves all day to their works and never let go of the brush. Part of the eccentricity that was attributed to Ōi is that she did not do any of the housework, it goes without saying the opinions that people had of a woman like her.

However, such dedication to painting paid off, Ōi became an accomplished artist, highly skilled at painting beautiful people – this subgenre of painting is referred to as bijin-ga in Japanese art – in Hokusai's words “bijin works -ga that I have performed are not equal to the ones that Ōi does”. When Hokusai begins to fall ill with age, it was Ōi who was at his side assisting him in the elaboration of each late work of the master; such was the skill level of this artist. There is no exact list of Hokusai's works in which Ōi's participation is recognized, but if works of his own production are known, although this list may seem short, the quality of each work leaves nothing to be desired.

Blanche H. Monet (1865-1947)

Blanche's family, made up of her 5 siblings and her parents, lived with the Monets for several years. Blanche's father was not living with the families as such, he worked in Paris and later in Belgium, while his family cohabited with the Monets. After the death of Camille – Monet's wife – in 1879, Blanche's family continued to live in the artist's house, but it was not until 1892, a year after Ernest's death, that Alice – Blanche's mother – and Claude Monet contracted marriage.

First Monet's stepdaughter, later in 1897, she would become his daughter-in-law by marrying the artist's eldest son, Jean Monet. The couple lived by their side, until Jean's death in 1914. Blanche returns to the house of her father-in-law Monet to take care of him because he was wasting away in a great depression, not only because of the death of his son, but also because of Alice's loss a few years earlier. This is how Blanche became Monet's main emotional and life support, taking charge of the house in Giverny and its gardens until her own death.

Blanche not only assisted Monet while he was suffering from the loss of his sight, she also dedicated herself to cultivating her own artistic production. He reached a fairly outstanding level and technique of Impressionism, with excellent relationships between light and color, as well as freedom in brushstrokes. Considered Monet's “blue angel”, she was also his greatest apprentice and an accomplished impressionist in a very pure style. His works can be easily confused with those of Monet at first glance, beyond the scenes and spaces that the artists shared, such was the closeness they shared and the influence of both towards the other. However, and fortunately, Blanche and Monet signed their respective works…most of the time.

Surely there are many other women artists that we are unaware of and still do not receive the visibility they deserve in the history of art. Of course, this small article is not enough to give everyone their place, however, no matter how small the steps we take, as long as we continue to advance towards the goal that is the recognition of women as artists in history. Honestly, a fair and necessary goal.

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