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Life Stories of Women Artists 1550 - 1800

written by Julia K Dabbs

Ashgate | ISBN 9780754654315

Hardback – 400 pages

$150.00

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The struggles and achievements of forty-six notable women artists of the early modern period, as documented by their contemporaries, are uniquely brought together in this anthology. The life stories presented here are foundational texts for the history of art, but since most are found only in rare volumes and few have been translated into English, until now they have been generally inaccessible to many scholars. Originally published in biographical compendia such as Vasari's "Lives of the Artists", the writings included here document not only the lives of relatively well known women artists such as Artemisia Gentileschi and Sofonisba Anguissola, but also those who have languished in obscurity, like Anna Waser and Li Yin. Each life story is preceded by a brief introduction to the artist as well as to her biographer, and the texts themselves are annotated to provide necessary clarification. Beyond their documentary value, these stories provide fascinating insight as to how men commonly characterized women artists as exceptions to their sex, and attempted to explain their presence in the male-dominated realm of art. The introductory chapter to the book explores this intriguing gender dynamic and elucidates some of the strategies and historical context that factored into the composition of these lives. The volume includes an appended index to women artists' life stories in biographical compendia of the period.

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