A Revolution on Canvas The Rise of Women Artists in Britain and France, 1760-1830 Paris Spies-Gans

Publication date:
28 Jun 2022
Paul Mellon Centre
336 pages: 270 x 210mm
157 color + b-w illus.
Sales territories:

The first collective, critical historical study of women artists in Britain and France during the Revolutionary era

A Revolution on Canvas argues that women artists professionalized in unprecedented numbers during the Revolutionary era, engaging with the cultural and intellectual currents of their societies and earning substantial incomes from their work despite the obstacles they encountered.
Through an interdisciplinary analysis of these artists’ careers, this groundbreaking book argues that exactly as political citizenship was being defined as a male privilege, women entered the public sphere as professional artists in significant numbers for the first time. Its subjects include a number of increasingly well-known painters, such as Angelica Kauffman, Élisabeth Vigée Le Brun, and Adélaïde Labille-Guiard, alongside copious other artists who were lauded in their own times but are little-known in ours.
This book challenges several longstanding assumptions and myths about women’s artistic activity during this period, ultimately presenting overwhelming evidence to contend that with their art, women engaged profoundly with the cultural, political, and economic currents of the Revolutionary era, navigating institutional inequalities that were often expressly designed to exclude members of their sex in order to forge profitable artistic identities.

Paris A. Spies-Gans is a historian and an art historian. She is currently a junior fellow at the Harvard Society of Fellows.