10 Most Famous Female Painters of All Time [With Photos]

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You’re about to discover the 10 most famous female painters you probably never knew existed.

Although it is quite a long way for men and women to achieve parity in the world of art, nevertheless, female artists haven’t disappointed. They have taken giant strides in recent times to create masterpieces that left the world amazed.

This has been evident with their works displayed in various galleries, museums, and international exhibitions centers.

These painters had to fight against various oppositions and gender biases to see their work recognized. These women have managed to taste the sweetness of success in the art world where men once dominated.

We will look at some of the most popular female painters who have paved the way for other artists. These artists are listed in no particular order.

Most Famous Female Painters of All Time

most famous female painters

 

Below, you’ll find some of the most famous female artists painters of all time. We’re also going to show you the work of each of these famous painters.

1. Bridget Riley

Bridget Riley

  • Nationality: British
  • Birth Date: April 24th, 1931
Bridget is an English artist born on 24 April 1931. Her compositions are made of sharp contrasting black and white lines, which express the impression of movement within the motionless image.

Her paintings tend to produce a confusing effect on viewers, who feels they are experiencing skydiving falls and seasickness.

Her arts are composed of optical illusions through precise manipulation of colors, shapes, and patterns. She became the first woman to be awarded the “International Prize” for painting when she represented Great Britain in the Venice Biennale.

Additionally, she was also the first British contemporary painter to have achieved this feat.

During her career, she created paintings for some prominent art institutions including the National Gallery and Tate.

She was regarded as the Master of Contrast and the Mother of Optical Art. Her famous works include “Movement in Squares” in 1961, “Kiss” in 1961, and “Current” in 1964.

Work of Art: Movement in Squares

Movement in Squares

 

2. Mary Cassatt

Mary Cassatt

  • Nationality: American
  • Birth Date: May 22nd, 1844
  • Death Date: June 14th, 1926

Gustave Geffroy described Cassatt one of the three ladies of impressionism. Although she was born on May 22, 1844, in Pennsylvania in the United States, she spent her entire career and life in France after she went for her artistic training.

During this period, impressionism was the order of the day as it dominated the French art world.

Impressionism was an influential movement where the focus of the artist is on capturing the temporary effect of a scene instead of depicting them accurately. She was able to organize different art exhibitions for young American female painters.

During this period, she became the only American artist to exhibit with the Impressionists in Paris. This further led to her having collaboration with one of the famous artist of the time, Edgar Degas.

Cassatt was famous for highlighting the private and social lives of women in her painting with much prominence on the intimate affection between children and mothers.

Undoubtedly, she was a notable female artist, considering her contribution and capacity to achieve professional success at a time when the world took a few female painters serious.

She is one of the greatest female artists of all time with her painting today fetching a lot of attention.

Her works include “The Child’s Bath” in 1893, “The Boating Party” in 1893, and the “Little Girl in Blue Armchair” in 1878. Her paintings have sold over $2.9 million up until today.

Work of Art: The Child’s Bath

The Child’s Bath

 

3. Frida Kahlo

Frida Kahlo

  • Nationality: Mexican
  • Birth Date: July 6th, 1907
  • Death Date: July 13th, 1954

Kahlo is indisputably one of the highly recognized female painters of the 20th century. Most times, people discover their talent when some unprecedented event happens to them.

This was the situation with Kahlo. When she was a teenager, she had an accident with her friend Alex when their bus bumped into a street trolley car.

Because of the accident, she suffered grievous injuries, which led to her undergoing 35 operations. She had to bear with relapses of extreme pain and destabilized her childhood.

However, while in the hospital, she began painting and abandoned her career in medicine. Kahlo was famous for her self-portraits because of her isolation from people. The paintings are a depiction of physical and psychological wounds.

She was once asked why her paintings were self-portraits, and she replied, “I paint myself because I am so often alone and because I am the subject I know best.”

In the artistic genre of self-portraiture, Kahlo is one of the greatest. Although she wasn’t famous in the “eyes of the public” when she was alive after some few years, her uniqueness was recognized.

Today, she is one of the renowned female painters with a new style of Mexican art painting called “Neomexicanismo.” Her famous masterpiece is “The Two Fridas” in 1939.

Her other notable works include “The Broken Column” in 1944 and the “Self-Portrait with Thorn Necklace and Hummingbird” in 1940.

Work of Art: The Two Fridas

The Two Fridas

 

4. Artemisia Gentileschi

Artemisia Gentileschi

  • Nationality: Italian
  • Birth Date: July 8th, 1593
  • Death Date: c. 1656
Artemisia is an Italian artist considered as one of the greatest during her painting career after the famous Michelangelo. With a painful childhood, she was able to put it aside and had an incredible career.

She lost her mother at age 12 and AgostinoTassi, one of her father’s colleagues, raped five years later. After the persecution of her rapist, she relocated to Florence, where she became successful as an artist.

She struggled during a time when women painters weren’t given any recognition. She later became the first woman to be a member of the Accademia Delle Arti del Disegno, which is an instructional art academy in Florence.

Her painting is mostly a depiction of women suffering from myths and the Bible. She is one of the accomplished painters of all time with her famous painting “Judith Beheading Holofernes” in 1620.

Other works include “Susanna and the Elders” in 1611 and the “Self-Portrait as the Allegory of Painting” in 1639.

Work of Art: Judith Slaying Holofernes

Judith Slaying Holofernes

 

5. Georgia O’ Keeffe

Georgia O’ Keeffe

  • Nationality: American
  • Birth Date: November 15th, 1887
  • Death Date: March 6th, 1986

Keeffe was an American artist, who became an inspiration for most women in the United States and a leading figure during the American Modernism.

The American Modernism was a cultural and artistic movement, which became popular during the two world wars. She started her career with charcoal painting before she later translated to using oil painting.

Most of her paintings were a depiction of famous buildings of New York during her time. She became famous because of her flowers paintings, which later saw her honored with the National Medal of Arts and Presidential Medal of Freedom.

This is the highest civilian medal anyone can have. She was known as the “Mother of American Modernism.” She is not just among the most famous female painters of all time but also influential figures of the 20th-century art.

Work of Art: Black Iris III in (in 1926)

Black Iris III

 

6. Louise Elisabeth Vigee Le Brun

Louise Elisabeth Vigee Le Brun

  • Nationality: France
  • Birth Date: April 16, 1755
  • Death Date: March 30, 1842

Louise is considered as one of the most famous female painters of the 18th century. Most of her painting during this period had critics acclaimed her uniqueness in painting portraits.

After the French revolution, she traveled to various countries, including Italy, Russian, etc.

She painted famous rulers during her time, and this popularity brought her to many well-known individuals. She was invited to England where she painted eminent personalities including Lord Bryon.

Indeed, Louise is one of the best female painters during her time.

Work of Art: Madame Grand

Madame Grand

 

 

7. Leonora Carrington

Leonora Carrington

  • Nationality: Mexican
  • Birth Date: April 6, 1917
  • Death Date: May 25, 2011

Carrington was a Mexican citizen, born on April 6, 1917, was acclaimed as the most famous female surrealist artist during her time. Surrealist was a prominent art movement, which rejects literary realism and rationalism.

She didn’t get to this feat on her own as she was in a relationship with the then leading surrealist artist, Max Ernst. Her first painting was a portrait of her lover as a tribute to their relationship.

Although most surrealists have an interest in the works of Sigmund Freud, Carrington was different as she wasn’t interested in such.

Instead, she was famous for her autobiographical paintings, which incorporated metamorphosis, sorcery, alchemy, and occult. Her paintings were an expression of female sexuality as it is uniquely different from the males.

Her famous masterpiece is the “Self-Portrait: The Inn of the Dawn Horse” with other works including the “Portrait of Max Ernst” and “The Giantess (The Guardian of the Egg)” in 1947. Considering her works, she is one of the most famous female painters of all time.

Work of Art: Self-Portrait – The Inn of the Dawn Horse

Self-Portrait - The Inn of the Dawn Horse

 

8. Tamara De Lempicka

Tamara De Lempicka

  • Nationality: Poland
  • Birth Date: May 16th, 1898
  • Death Date: March 18th, 1980

Born in an aristocratic family in Poland, Tamara de Lempicka spent her working life in the United States and.

Tamara studied painting with two famous artists: André Lhote and Maurice Denis. One of her numerous paintings “Art Deco” was a creative style illustrated by precise and boldly outlined geometric shapes and solid colors.

Additionally, she was the single traditional stand painter who worked in the Art Deco style. Tamara De Lempicka is popular for portraits of aristocrats and the wealthy that were executed in a colorful, dynamic, and realistic Art Deco style.

She often portrayed her female lovers and other women in groups or pairs hence challenging the traditional way of representing nude women for the viewing pleasure of the male.

Furthermore, after temporarily fading out, De Lempicka’s art surfaced again in the late 1960s with the reawakening of the “Art Deco” and ever since then, Tamara’s paintings have had lots of admirers including the from popular American singer Madonna.

Work of Art: Autoportrait: Self-Portrait in a Green Bugatti

Autoportrait - Self-Portrait in a Green Bugatti

 

9. Rosa Bonheur

Rosa Bonheur

  • Nationality: French
  • Birth Date: March 16th, 1822
  • Death Date: May 25th, 1899

Rosa was born to a wealthy family in France and had her first art displayed when she was 19 years old. In no time, she became an outstanding painter.

Although her popularity took a downward turn, however, many in America and England admired her works.

One of such admiration was from Queen Victoria, who highly praised her for her Bonheur’s masterpiece “The Horse Fair.”

Her paintings were distinct and mostly focused on animals. These paintings were done after extensive scientific study of animal anatomy. She paved the way for most ladies in a time when art wasn’t appreciated.

Her efforts didn’t go unnoticed as she was awarded the Grand Cross Legion of Honor in 1865. The award was the highest French order for military and civil merits; she was the first woman to achieve this feat.

She is not just not one of the greatest female painters of her time but among the most famous female painters of all time.

Besides her famous masterpiece “The Horse Fair” in 1855, her other works include “The Lion at Home” in 1881, and the “Ploughing in the Nivernais: in 1849.

Work of Art: The Horse Fair

the horse fair

 

10. Tracey Emin

Tracey Emin

  • Nationality: British
  • Birth Date: July 3rd, 1963

The Young British Artists (YBA) is a name given to some group of visual artists who first start to exhibit together in 1988, in London. They’re famous for their entrepreneurial attitude, shock tactics, and openness to materials.

Tracey Emin is the most popular YBA after Damien Hirst. Emin has explored a wide range of media, and her art is known for being confessional and autobiographical.

Furthermore, her most famous works include:

  • My Bed (a ready-made installation comprising of her own untidy, dirty bed while she was passing through a period of extreme depression)
  • Everyone I Have Ever Slept With (a tent decorated with the names of all the people she had ever slept with) 1963–1995

Known as the “bad girl of British art,” Tracey is one of the most renowned contemporary artists of all time. In 2013, she was named among the “100 most powerful women in the U.K.”

Aside from that, she’s also one of two women to be appointed a professor at London’s Royal Academy of Arts, since its origination in 1768.

Work of Art: Everyone I Have Ever Slept With

Everyone I Have Ever Slept With

 

Famous Female Painters | Conclusion

Now, you’ve seen some of the most famous female painters of all time, who, regardless of the opposition, have thrived and paved the way for other female painters.

Although there are many other wonderful and creative female writers which we couldn’t include here because of time, we only wanted to give you an idea of what some women have been able to achieve in the painting industry.

This should serve as inspiration for you, in case you’ve been considering becoming a painter, regardless of gender.

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