Works by some of historys most celebrated women artists are featured in a compelling new exhibition at the Walker Art Gallery
The Rise of Women Artists charts the progress made by female artists from the 16th century up to the present day.
Containing an extensive range of artworks from the museums permanent collection, the exhibition goes on display at the Walker Art Gallery in William Brown Street from 23 October 2009 to 14 March 2010.
The gallery was ahead of its time in collecting works by women artists, a fact that will be reflected in the scope and diversity of this superb exhibition.
The Rise of Women Artists is displayed chronologically in nine sections, featuring paintings, works on paper, textiles, ceramics and sculpture.
The exhibition traces the historical changes affecting women, looking at their status and careers as they moved to assert themselves as artists in their own right.It also poses questions to visitors:
Does the gender of an artist matter and should artists be labelled?
Are so-called decorative arts such as needlework and ceramics any less significant as works of art than paintings?
Celebrating some of the key pioneers of womens art, the exhibition features early works from artists including 16th and 17th century Italian painters Lavinia Fontana and Elisabetta Sirani, and renowned 18th century French painter Elisabeth Vigee-Lebrun..
Paintings from the gallerys vast 19th century permanent collection are displayed with Louisa Starrs Sintram, Jessie MacGregors In the Reign of Terror, Elaine by Sophie Anderson and Life and Thought by Evelyn de Morgan on show, alongside Pre-Raphaelite Emma Sandys.
Merseyside connections are also explored, with Fantine based on a character from the Victor Hugo novel Les Miserable by Margaret Hall, the daughter of a Mayor of Liverpool, and early 20th century ceramics designed at the Birkenhead Della Robbia Pottery.
Contemporary works including abstract art by Fiona Rae and prints by Paula Rego complete the journey through the exhibition.
Robin Emmerson, head of decorative arts at the Walker Art Gallery, says: The Walker has a strong collection of work by women artists that has been steadily built up since the gallery opened. The fact that we have such a collection of early works, particularly through the 19th century, is quite unique and this has enabled us to put together an exhibition that is visually stunning and historically fascinating. The Rise of Women Artists shows that women have been creative in a wide variety of media over time, from 16th century European paintings, and the industrial pottery of the early 20th century. The exhibition conveys the struggles women faced to be accepted as credible artists. We also want to challenge the perceptions of what people think art is. Is a painting more important as a piece of art than an embroidered pillowcase or a pottery vase? The Rise of Women Artists challenges, informs and entertains a truly captivating exhibition.