To acknowledge Women’s History Month, I would like to spotlight the artist Rosalba Carriera, a Venetian who rose to prominence in France in the early 18th century. Becoming an artist was difficult, if not impossible for most women throughout history. Despite this, Rosalba distinguished herself as one of the originators of the Rococo style in Italy and France. This style, as demonstrated by "Young Woman with a Parrot," featured soft, feathery application of color, usually white, gold, light blues, pinks, and greens. The subject matter showed the frivolous pastimes of the nobility, often with sensuous and seductive overtones. She pioneered the medium of pastel for painting. Prior to Carriera’s influence, it was regarded as little more than a medium for sketching.
“Young Lady with a Parrot," pastel on blue laid paper in the collection of The Art Institute of Chicago, shows the artist's sense of humor. She transfers the blame for the provocative gesture of baring one’s breast to the mischievous bird. An aviary wardrobe malfunction!
In the 20th and 21st centuries, progress for women in art has progressed, considering the thousands of years in which women were actively thwarted in their pursuit of art. We can attend art school, draw the male nude from life, and exhibit. However, progress is slow...in a 2019 study, only 11% of art acquired by the country’s top 26 museums was by women. There are exceptions to the rule, however. We now have the National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington, D.C., and the Baltimore Museum bought only women's art in 2019-2020.
Happy Women's History Month!