Whilst compiling this page I was shocked to realise how lucky I, as a girl, to have been able to study at university. Lesbians artists should not be singular but generic for woman artists. For art, historically woman and lesbians who wanted to be creative had to do so without becoming part of a guild or academy, or studying life drawing, as they were banned! Lucky noble women (wives, widows and daughters) could be educated to read and write, learn and practice the arts, and play musical instruments. For those less fortunate ie most women, convents were places where women could learn how to read, paint and play musical instruments. Obviously this would come with sacrifices (which I defo could not have done). Yet some lucky wives and daughters could help in
... their husbands' and fathers' workshops or take up home crafts such as needle crafts (embroideries), weaving and pottery.
Women & Lesbian Artists During The 18th Century
Though it was the age of Enlightenment and the Age of Reason, most women (and lesbians) were still largely banned from formal academic training and exhibiting their work. Women & lesbian artists relied on private salons hosted by wealthy and powerful women and personal connections and informal networks of patronage, support, and training.
Women & Lesbian Artists During The Second Half Of The 19th Century
Women & lesbian artists were still excluded from, for example: free training at state-sponsored art schools, life drawing classes, state commissions and purchases, as well as participating within official competitions. When sculptor Anne Whitney began to study art, quite incredulous, in America apparently not only could women not attend life drawing classes, but plaster casts of the human form could not be used in co-educational classrooms and visits to art galleries required that sculptures of nude men needed to have the genitalia covered before the women could enter the gallery. So some women artists studied anatomy to see a... man's willy!
So to attain art training women and lesbians turned to the studios of established artists or to private academies and "Female only Schools" with art life classes consisting of completely dressed men. For example The Society of Female Artists (now called The Society of Women Artists) was established in 1855 in London and has staged annual exhibitions since 1857, when 358 works were shown by 149 women with some women artists using a pseudonym. The new medium of photography, offered new opportunities to women as there were no traditional restrictions, and no established training. The issue of women’s exclusion from arts education was not addressed by the Royal Academy until 1860, when Laura Herford was admitted by accident to the RA Schools after submitting drawings with only her initials, L.H.. This is rather ironic as, the Royal Academy got off to a great start in 1768 as two of its founding members were women, the painters Mary Moser and Angelica Kauffman! Life drawing became available to female art students in Paris & Amsterdam in the 1870s, and to London in the 1890s (and their admission to the Royal Academy was strictly controlled to ensure that they didn't outnumber the men).
The rest is history. For sure we all owe thanks to the suffragette movement. Bravo to the woman and lesbian artists and sculptors who pursued their passion in art.
Artist: 1822 – 1899
Artist: 1853 – 1927
Artist: 1865 – 1941
Artist: 1866 – 1962
Artist: 1869 – 1957
Artist: 1873 – 1962
Artist: 1874 – 1970
Artist: 1883 – 1956
Artist: 1885 – 1933
Artist: 1886 - 1940
Artist: 1889 – 1978
Artist: 1889 – 1958
Artist: 1890 – 1976
Artist: 1893 – 1981
Artist: 1895 – 1978
Artist: 1886 - 1940
Artist: 1896 – 1982
Artist: 1898? – 1980
Artist: 1898 – 1993
Artist: 1900 - 1982
Artist: 1900 - 1982
Artist: 1907 - 1954
Artist: 1907 - 1996
When lesbian sculptor Anne Whitney began to study art, quite incredulous, in America apparently not only could women not attend life drawing classes, but plaster casts of the human form could not be used in co-educational classrooms and, visits to art galleries required that sculptures of nude men needed to have the genitalia covered before the women could enter the gallery. So some women artists and sculptor studied anatomy to study a... man's willy! Here are some lesbian sculptors you should know about.
Emma Stebbins was a neoclassical sculptor and was the first woman to receive a public art commission from New York City for the statue "Angel of the Waters" (1873), aka... more
American Sculptor: 1815 - 1882
Mary studied and worked with French artist Rosa Bonheur. In 1853 with American sculptor Harriet Hosmer, Mary was working in the studio of Welsh sculptor John Gibson in Rome... more
Welsh Sculptor: 1819 – 1896
Anne Whitney is known for her full-length and bust sculptures of prominent political and historical figures including Harriet Beecher Stowe (American abolitionist and... more
American Sculptor: 1821-1915
During the 19th century, Harriet Hosmer was the most distinguished American female sculptor. She created polished Neoclassical sculptures, depicting mythological icons... more
American Sculptor: 1830 - 1908
Edmonia Lewis story is an incredible tale of tenacity. Edmonia's father was African-Haitian and her mother was African-American and Mississauga (a branch of... more
African-American Sculptor: 1844 – 1907
Ambrosia Tønnesen is regarded as Norway's first female professional sculptor. She studied first in Copenhagen and later in Berlin and then moved to Paris for 20 years. During her lifetime... more
Norwegian Sculptor: 1859 – 1948
Malvina Hoffman is well known for her life-size bronze sculptures of people. Commissioned by the Chicago Field Museum of Natural History she created 104 bronze statues of... more
American Sculptor: 1885 – 1966
Sigrid Blomberg studied sculpture at the Stockholm Art Academy, and furthered her studies in Dresden, Germany. In 1890 she was commissioned to sculpt an ... more
Swedish Sculptor: 1863 – 1941