SVMoA Virtual Lecture “Two Women of the Baroque Era” with Elaine French

Wed, Feb 24th, 6:00pm


February 2021

Sun Valley Museum of Art

191 5th St E, Ketchum, ID 83340, USA

Sun Valley Museum of Art
(208) 726-9491


Ketchum, ID — Feb. 4, 2021 — As part of the BIG IDEA project Deeds Not Words: Women Working for Change, Sun Valley Museum of Art (SVMoA) will host an art history lecture, “Two Women Artists of the Baroque Era,” with Elaine French. The lecture will be held Wednesday, Feb. 24, from 6 to 7 p.m. and will be livestreamed online via Crowdcast.

Artemisia Gentileschi, Self Portrait as Saint Catherine of Alexandria, 1615-17, Oil on Canvas, Collection of National Gallery, London

Join Elaine French in looking at two women painters with notable accomplishments. Judith Leyster (1609-60) and Artemisia Gentileschi (1593-1653) emerged in the 17th century in Europe. Leyster was part of the Dutch Golden Age of painting, dominated notably by Rembrandt (1606-69), Frans Hals (1582-1666) and Johannes Vermeer (1632-75). Gentileschi represents the Italian Baroque era, whose most important painters were Caravaggio (1571-1610) and Annibale Carracci (1560-1609).

Not surprisingly, both women’s work and artistic reputations were affected by aspects of their personal experiences. Although Leyster was highly regarded during her lifetime, her name faded into obscurity as her paintings were attributed either to her husband or to Frans Hals until late in the 19th century.  Gentileschi’s stature suffered a different fate. Like Leyster, she was well regarded and traveled widely on commission during her lifetime, but her work was overlooked in subsequent centuries. Even when she was rediscovered in the early 20th century, her accomplishments were overshadowed by the story of her rape by one of her colleagues.

These important women artists have recently begun receiving the art historical attention they deserve. Elaine French’s lecture will examine the similarities and differences in Leyster and Gentileschi’s  paintings. What are the shared Baroque elements in both? How did Caravaggio’s enormous impact show up in both women’s work? What aspects of their paintings are attributable to their shared gender? And how did their gender impact their career paths?

Elaine French holds a master’s degree in art history from San Jose State University, with a thesis that deals with an early Italian Renaissance manuscript illumination. She has taught art history at San Jose State as well as at the College of Southern Idaho and has lectured at Sun Valley Museum of Art and at the Community Library in Ketchum.

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