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Artemisia Gentileschi and Ingenious Italian Women Artists Honored in Groundbreaking Exhibition Internationally acclaimed exhibition opens February 6, 2022 at the Detroit Institute of Arts

Updated Jan 18, 2022

January 18, 2022 (DETROIT)—Explore the untold stories of women artists in the male-dominated Italian art world in By Her Hand: Artemisia Gentileschi and Women Artists in Italy, 1500–1800 at the Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA) February 6 –May 29, 2022. This exhibition highlights 17 ingenious women of this time period, featuring confident self-portraits, realistic still lifes, scenes of women’s bravery and meditative religious scenes.

Tickets can be purchased at www.dia.org/ByHerHand or by calling 313-833-7900. Ticket prices range from $8-$18, and are free for DIA members and discounted for residents of Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties. This is the DIA’s first ticketed exhibition since the pandemic, signaling a continued return to normal operations. Masks are required for all visitors, regardless of vaccination status.

By Her Hand is organized by the DIA and the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art in Hartford, Conn., and was previously on view in Hartford from September 30, 2021–January 9, 2022. The DIA is the only other (and final) venue for this exhibition.

Described by The New York Times as “…the most significant American show of women of the Italian Renaissance and Baroque eras since 2007,” the exhibition features 57 works from private and public American collections, along with a significant number of loans from Europe. Through these works of art in diverse media—from paintings to prints—the fascinating stories of early modern Italian women artists will be told. This is the first exhibition devoted to women artists before the modern era at both institutions—an important historical milestone, which was prompted and inspired by major advances in scholarship on the subject of women artists over the last fifty years. 

At a time when women faced scarce opportunities to pursue formal artistic training, Artemisia Gentileschi (1593–c. 1654) paved the way for women artists to garner professional recognition in artistic practices long dominated by men. A trailblazer of her generation, she established herself as a master of Baroque painting, attracting the patronage of an international audience and clientele, including the Medici family and Charles I of England.

Along with self-portraits, Gentileschi’s paintings include masterpieces that feature strong-willed heroines, such as the DIA’s own Judith and Her Maidservant with the Head of Holofernes. Her body of work is characterized by rich color and intense contrasts of light. Beyond Gentileschi, this groundbreaking exhibition will concentrate on less well-known – but equally important – Italian women artists from the Renaissance to the Baroque. To this end, By Her Hand celebrates the contributions of her contemporaries by featuring works by the court artist Sofonisba Anguissola (1532–1625), the Bolognese portrait painter Lavinia Fontana (1552–1614), the Milanese still-life painter Fede Galizia (1578–1630), the Bolognese painter and printmaker Elisabetta Sirani (1638–1665), the Italian miniaturist Giovanna Garzoni (1600–1670), as well as works by the Venetian pastel artist Rosalba Carriera (1673–1757), among other talented, though lesser-known Italian women artists. Ultimately, this exhibition will underscore the vital role of women artists around 1600.

Visitors will gain an understanding of how, in the male-dominated art world of the 1500s through the 1700s, Gentileschi and other early Italian women artists succeeded, and the exhibition will invite conversations around gender and power dynamics in the contemporary world.

“This is a rare and exciting opportunity for audiences in Detroit to view firsthand artworks by so many gifted Italian women artists. It is interesting to consider the ways in which their experiences are parallel -to or differ from women artists today,” said Eve Straussman-Pflanzer, exhibition co-curator and former Head of European Art Department & Elizabeth and Allan Shelden Curator of European Paintings at the DIA and the current Curator of Italian and Spanish Paintings at the National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C.

Since the 1970s, works of women artists have received more scholarly attention and have been acquired in greater numbers by museums around the globe. Gentileschi has surged as a major focus of study and can be considered one of the most famous artists of the period.

Tickets for By Her Hand include a dynamic multimedia tour with audio, images, video, and interactive storytelling that bring these artists’ stories from 400 years ago into conversation with the modern day. To access the tour during their visit, visitors will need to bring their own smartphone and headphones.

An exhibition catalogue will be available in the DIA Shop. Edited by the exhibition co-curators Straussman-Pflanzer and Dr. Oliver Tostmann, Susan Morse Hilles Curator of European Art at the Wadsworth Atheneum, with additional contributions by Dr. Sheila Barker, and Dr. Babette Bohn. Individual catalogue entries for each object are written by leading scholars in the field.

Exhibition programming includes a documentary film series titled On Visionary Women, highlighting Hilma af Klint, Eva Hesse and Ursula Von Rydingsvard, as well as music by the Sonnambula consortium, a group of instrumentalists dedicated to bringing to light unknown compositions for period instruments. A playlist of their music will be available for streaming on the DIA’s Soundcloud and Spotify channels.

By Her Hand: Artemisia Gentileschi and Women Artists in Italy, 1500–1800 is organized by the Detroit Institute of Arts and the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art.

Major support is provided by the European Paintings Council, Masco Corporation, Huntington, Anne G Fredericks, and the Valade Family.

Additional support is provided by Jennifer Adderley, Peter and Carol Walters, Mary Ann and Robert Gorlin, MSU Federal Credit Union and the Desk Drawer Fund, Claudia J. Nickel, the Nancy S. Williams Trust and Sharon Backstrom, executor, Brenda Naomi Rosenberg, an anonymous donor, the Richard and Jane Manoogian Foundation, and the Robert Lehman Foundation.

Funding is also provided by Ann Berman and Daniel Feld and the Samuel H. Kress Foundation.

January 18, 2022 (DETROIT)—Explore the untold stories of women artists in the male-dominated Italian art world in By Her Hand: Artemisia Gentileschi and Women Artists in Italy, 1500–1800 at the Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA) February 6 –May 29, 2022. This exhibition highlights 17 ingenious women of this time period, featuring confident self-portraits, realistic still lifes, scenes of women’s bravery and meditative religious scenes.

Tickets can be purchased at www.dia.org/ByHerHand or by calling 313-833-7900. Ticket prices range from $8-$18, and are free for DIA members and discounted for residents of Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties. This is the DIA’s first ticketed exhibition since the pandemic, signaling a continued return to normal operations. Masks are required for all visitors, regardless of vaccination status.

By Her Hand is organized by the DIA and the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art in Hartford, Conn., and was previously on view in Hartford from September 30, 2021–January 9, 2022. The DIA is the only other (and final) venue for this exhibition.

Described by The New York Times as “…the most significant American show of women of the Italian Renaissance and Baroque eras since 2007,” the exhibition features 57 works from private and public American collections, along with a significant number of loans from Europe. Through these works of art in diverse media—from paintings to prints—the fascinating stories of early modern Italian women artists will be told. This is the first exhibition devoted to women artists before the modern era at both institutions—an important historical milestone, which was prompted and inspired by major advances in scholarship on the subject of women artists over the last fifty years. 

At a time when women faced scarce opportunities to pursue formal artistic training, Artemisia Gentileschi (1593–c. 1654) paved the way for women artists to garner professional recognition in artistic practices long dominated by men. A trailblazer of her generation, she established herself as a master of Baroque painting, attracting the patronage of an international audience and clientele, including the Medici family and Charles I of England.

Along with self-portraits, Gentileschi’s paintings include masterpieces that feature strong-willed heroines, such as the DIA’s own Judith and Her Maidservant with the Head of Holofernes. Her body of work is characterized by rich color and intense contrasts of light. Beyond Gentileschi, this groundbreaking exhibition will concentrate on less well-known – but equally important – Italian women artists from the Renaissance to the Baroque. To this end, By Her Hand celebrates the contributions of her contemporaries by featuring works by the court artist Sofonisba Anguissola (1532–1625), the Bolognese portrait painter Lavinia Fontana (1552–1614), the Milanese still-life painter Fede Galizia (1578–1630), the Bolognese painter and printmaker Elisabetta Sirani (1638–1665), the Italian miniaturist Giovanna Garzoni (1600–1670), as well as works by the Venetian pastel artist Rosalba Carriera (1673–1757), among other talented, though lesser-known Italian women artists. Ultimately, this exhibition will underscore the vital role of women artists around 1600.

Visitors will gain an understanding of how, in the male-dominated art world of the 1500s through the 1700s, Gentileschi and other early Italian women artists succeeded, and the exhibition will invite conversations around gender and power dynamics in the contemporary world.

“This is a rare and exciting opportunity for audiences in Detroit to view firsthand artworks by so many gifted Italian women artists. It is interesting to consider the ways in which their experiences are parallel -to or differ from women artists today,” said Eve Straussman-Pflanzer, exhibition co-curator and former Head of European Art Department & Elizabeth and Allan Shelden Curator of European Paintings at the DIA and the current Curator of Italian and Spanish Paintings at the National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C.

Since the 1970s, works of women artists have received more scholarly attention and have been acquired in greater numbers by museums around the globe. Gentileschi has surged as a major focus of study and can be considered one of the most famous artists of the period.

Tickets for By Her Hand include a dynamic multimedia tour with audio, images, video, and interactive storytelling that bring these artists’ stories from 400 years ago into conversation with the modern day. To access the tour during their visit, visitors will need to bring their own smartphone and headphones.

An exhibition catalogue will be available in the DIA Shop. Edited by the exhibition co-curators Straussman-Pflanzer and Dr. Oliver Tostmann, Susan Morse Hilles Curator of European Art at the Wadsworth Atheneum, with additional contributions by Dr. Sheila Barker, and Dr. Babette Bohn. Individual catalogue entries for each object are written by leading scholars in the field.

Exhibition programming includes a documentary film series titled On Visionary Women, highlighting Hilma af Klint, Eva Hesse and Ursula Von Rydingsvard, as well as music by the Sonnambula consortium, a group of instrumentalists dedicated to bringing to light unknown compositions for period instruments. A playlist of their music will be available for streaming on the DIA’s Soundcloud and Spotify channels.

By Her Hand: Artemisia Gentileschi and Women Artists in Italy, 1500–1800 is organized by the Detroit Institute of Arts and the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art.

Major support is provided by the European Paintings Council, Masco Corporation, Huntington, Anne G Fredericks, and the Valade Family.

Additional support is provided by Jennifer Adderley, Peter and Carol Walters, Mary Ann and Robert Gorlin, MSU Federal Credit Union and the Desk Drawer Fund, Claudia J. Nickel, the Nancy S. Williams Trust and Sharon Backstrom, executor, Brenda Naomi Rosenberg, an anonymous donor, the Richard and Jane Manoogian Foundation, and the Robert Lehman Foundation.

Funding is also provided by Ann Berman and Daniel Feld and the Samuel H. Kress Foundation.