Lost Heroines

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Perhaps you love to pore over catalogs of great Western art. Even as a girl I noticed few women represented in these books. I couldn't help wondering if there was good reason for this: perhaps women lacked the emotional and physical stamina to pursue art with the intensity, hence achievement of men. For years I wondered why society had not produced a lady Rembrandt or Picasso.

The answer, of course, is society has. My realization of this came by grace of the "new" art survey books of the 1980s. No doubt inspired by the women's movement, some devoted themselves exclusively to women artists. I am thinking specifically of Wendy Slatkin's Women Artists in History (Prentiss-Hall, 1985). Many of the works and painters in this study were entirely new to me. The paintings of one, particularly, struck me for their joy and restrained vigor--Elisabeth Vigee-Lebrun.

Vigee-Lebrun's works aren't new. They've been in the Louvre 200 years. Unfortunately, I had not. I knew art only as filtered through the eyes, interests and judgment of those critics and editors who compiled the art books of my youth. For some unfathomable reason, these scholars tended to leave women's works out of their catalogs of great Western paintings.

For me, this discovery was liberating! But was the same tendency true of other disciplines-- architecture, medicine, mathematics and physics? With a little digging, I found a whole new realm of information: the stories of accomplished women from throughout the ages. Still hard to find in the encyclopedias, these women used their talent and toughness to change their cultures. And their accomplishments ring down the generations to affect our lives today.

You'll find some of these women right here, at our site. We'll also direct you to other sites where you can find more forgotten figures. Even if you have a firm grounding in women's history, you may find some heroine you've never met before.


Last Updated on May 20, 1998. Your comments and questions are welcome. Write to Carrie at: uintah@magiclink.com