Annie Kevans: Women and the History of Art
Shut your eyes and picture an Impressionist painter. Do they have a beard and a wounded expression? Is there an exquisitely wrought depiction of a haystack at their elbow and a glass of vin rouge in their hand? Are they firmly ensconced in a Parisian café? Chances are, they are at least one of these things; what is most unlikely is that they are a woman.
Why were so many female artists airbrushed from history?
By the time Virginia Woolf wrote, “For most of history, Anonymous was a woman,” the world was ready to recognise her for it, working as she was in an era when a few successful women at least could be celebrated by later generations. The same could not be said for Sofonisba Anguissola or Angelica Kauffman.
Kevans’s portraits, on oil-primed paper, with loose, thick lines, muted backgrounds and immediate, direct eyelines, are created from the few pictures that survive of these largely forgotten women.
Images courtesy of The Fine Art Society