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5 Most Famous Female Oil Painters and Their Masterpieces

When we think of famous artists, a lot of men’s names come to mind such as Leonardo da Vinci and Salvador Dali. However, there were a number of very talented female oil painters who deserve praise and attention. You might even know their masterpieces without knowing the woman behind them.

1. Louise Élisabeth Vigée Le Brun

Louise Élisabeth Vigée Le Brun Self-portrait

Louise Élisabeth Vigée Le Brun, also known as Madame Le Brun, was a woman ahead of her time. She taught herself how to paint when she was young and by age 28, she was admitted as one of four women into the French Academy at the behest of Marie Antoinette.

Portrait of Marie Antoinette

Active in Paris during the late 18th-century, Madame Le Brun made a name for herself with her portraits of aristocratic women. If you’re looking to buy oil painting online, she has a wide gallery to consider. Some of her most famous original paintings include her Portrait of Marie Antoinette in 1783 and Emma Hamilton as a Bacchante in 1792.

Emma Hamilton as a Bacchante in 1792

2.Frida Kahlo

No list praising a female artist painting would be complete without mentioning Frida Kahlo. She’s a Mexican artist well-known for honest and emotionally charged paintings

Her art gallery includes a long list of absolutely stunning pieces. One of her more well-known paintings was done in 1939 called Las Dos Fridas or, The Two Fridas. This painting was done after her divorce from the artist Diego Rivera. It features two self-portraits holding hands with intertwined hearts. One Frida wears traditional Tehuana dress and the other wears modern clothing. The painting is meant to represent two personalities - one heartbroken by the loss and the other a strong, independent woman who features a full, unbroken heart.

Las Dos Fridas

3. Leonora Carrington

Leonora Carrington was another talented Mexican artist but she branched into surrealism rather than following a realistic style. In other words, the paintings you might see for sale from her collection look much more dreamlike than the other artists we’ve looked at here.

Her most famous painting is her Self-Portrait: The Inn of the Dawn Horse done in 1937-1938. Through her career, she went a different way than most surrealists of her time. While many turned to the work of Freud as their inspiration, she turned towards more occult inspirations. Her work focused on two main ideas: autobiographical concepts and expressing female sexuality from a female perspective which wasn’t often done.

4. Georgia O’ Keeffe

Georgia O’ Keeffe self-portrait

Georgia O’ Keeffe is one of the most famous female artists from the United States. Her style fell into the category of American Modernism which reached its height between the first and second World War. She didn’t just participate in the movement, though, but earned the monikor “The Mother of American Modernism” and was awarded the Presidential Medal Freedom in 1977.

She created a variety of works but she was most well known for her paintings of flowers. These paintings were closeups that had a sensual overtone. The most famous among them is her Black Iris III finished in 1926.

Black Iris III

5. Artemisia Gentileschi

Artemisia Gentileschi isn’t a name everyone knows but almost everyone has seen her masterpiece, Judith Slaying Holofernes done in 1620. The painting depicts a scene from The Book of Judith in the Old Testament. Many artists have recreated this scene but Gentileschi’s depiction remains the most well-known. She followed it with another of her oil paintings which shows Judith and her maid holding a knife and Holofernes head in a basket, respectively.

Judith Slaying Holofernes

The Italian artist took her inspiration from the strong women depicted in the Bible and mythology. She had a number of her own struggles in life including the loss of her mother when she was 12 and rape by her father’s colleague at age 17. By the end of her life, she was the first woman who became a member of The Accademia di Arte del Disegno as an instructor.


History hasn’t always given women the credit they deserve. These women have earned their place in history with their high level of skill, creativity, and their honest and unique view of the world they’ve presented to us.

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