Here we list all the new books about women artists that have come to our attention, published in the second quarter of this calendar year. Descriptions are drawn from the blurb on the publisher’s website. If you know of other titles that should be on this list, please let us know by comment or by email (Erika@artherstory.net).

Front cover of the catalog "The Immensity of the Universe in the Art of Giovanna Garzoni," featuring a painting of a small dog on a pink tablecloth. The show is on at the Uffizi Galleries until June 29, 2020.

Giovanna Garzoni astonished Europe with a virtuosic miniature technique for capturing reality, as highlighted in this splendid catalogue, which explores a much fuller range of her production to reveal how her images addressed, and in turn stimulated, the rise of cultural globalism and a new sense of connectivity across a vast geography. Her artworks kindle the wondrous delight she felt upon encountering porcelain from Ming China, shells from the Gulf of California, marigolds from Mexico, and a lapdog from England. Seen through her curious eye, the exotic is naturalized and the marvelous is masterfully counterfeited. Her art invites us to reflect upon the infinite complexity of the world, even its smallest parts.

This book is the catalogue for the exhibition “La grandezza del universo” nell’arte di Giovanna Garzoni, currently on at the Uffizi until June 29, 2020.

Front cover for the exhibition catalog "Artemisia," for a show at London's National Gallery. The exhibition has been delayed due to covid. The book cover features a detail from the "Judith and her Maidservant" painting held at the Detroit Institute of Arts.
  • Artemisia, by Letizia Treves with Sheila Barker, Patrizia Cavazzini, Elizabeth Cropper, Larry Keith, Francesco Solinas, and Francesca Whitlum-Cooper. Co-publishers: UK – National Gallery and US – Yale University Press (2020).

Artemisia Gentileschi’s paintings are recognized for their dramatic power and originality, showing the artist to be one of the most compelling storytellers of her time. This beautiful book includes essays on her life and career; a discussion of her personal and artistic relationship with her father; a summary of critical writings and an overview of the wide range of approaches to Artemisia’s work since her rediscovery by feminist art historians more than 50 years ago; a more personal insight into Artemisia through her letters; a discussion of the artist’s self-representation in her work; and an essay dedicated to her painting technique.

This book is the first exhibition catalogue dedicated only to Artemisia Gentileschi. It accompanies Artemisia, the exhibition originally planned by London’s National Gallery to open in April 2020, which has been postponed due to COVID-19. The new exhibition dates have not yet been announced.

Front cover of the exhibition catalogue for Grim Glory: Lee Miller's Britain at War, with an essay by Ami Bouhassane.

Lee Miller, an American with no permit to work, arrived in Britain just as war was declared. She used her camera as her principle means of combat during World War II. Before she left Britain to report in Europe, Lee covered the Blitz, civilians braving the destruction around them, and their contributions to the war effort. She also photographed wartime fashion, camouflage, and women working in the armed forces on the home front. This book contains 75 images (of which 50 are full page) and an essay by Ami Bouhassane.

The book accompanies an exhibition of the same name at Farleys House & Gallery. It was originally scheduled to open in early June 2020, but has been postponed due to COVID-19. The new exhibition dates have not yet been announced.

Front cover of a book of sonnets by Jacqueline Saphra called Veritas: Poems after Artemisia. The cover features Artemisia Gentileschi's self-portrait in a green dress as an allegory of Painting, held at the Royal Collection Trust.

Jacqueline Saphra’s sonnet cycle positions Artemisia Gentileschi as an icon for our times—a woman who fought against injustice and established herself as an independent artist. Veritas: Poems after Artemisia also includes an introductory essay by Gentileschi expert Dr. Jordana Pomeroy, Director of the Patricia & Phillip Frost Art Museum in Miami, Florida, and an afterword by the author. Each sonnet is accompanied by a full-colour reproduction of the Gentileschi painting that inspired it. The first edition is limited to 300 copies, signed by the author.

Helen McNicholl, Life and Work, by Samantha Burton. Publisher: Art Canada Institute (2020).

Helen McNicoll: Life & Work explores the impressive career of a Canadian impressionist who, until recently, has been relatively little known to the public. Celebrated in her own day as technically advanced and “profoundly original,” at the time of her death McNicoll had exhibited over seventy works in exhibitions in Canada and England, some of which are published here for the first time. The book describes the artist’s life from her early years in Montreal, examining the possibilities and limitations faced by a professional woman artist in the years just before the First World War, to McNicoll’s significant role in the transmission of Impressionism to Canada. Using her luminous canvases to discuss issues such as femininity and domesticity, rural labour, fashion, and tourism, the book reveals McNicoll’s body of work as diverse, complicated, and surprisingly modern.

Front cover of a book called Sophie de Tott: Artist in a Time of Revolution, by Julia Gasper.

This book explores the extraordinary life of Sophie de Tott, an artist, writer, musician and secret agent who witnessed the French Revolution firsthand. Born in Constantinople, she came to France as a young woman and suffered agonies when her father would not allow her to marry the man she desperately loved. She wrote a tragic novel that mirrored her own unhappy love life. She knew many of the most famous people of her time, including French monarchs and Thomas Jefferson. In seeking to unravel the truth about her secret love child—and the lengths to which she went to avoid scandal—this biography doubles as a detective story.

Front cover of a book called Fierce Dreamer: A Novel, by Linda Lafferty about Baroque woman artist Artemisia Gentileschi.

Born in the bustling artist quarter of Rome, Artemisia, daughter of renowned painter Orazio Gentileschi, is unavoidably drawn into a profession unheard of for women. With an innate grasp of color, light, and composition, and inspired by the mercurial Caravaggio, the fiery Artemisia embraces her calling with a precocious brilliance. But as a young woman, she also finds herself oppressed by a powerful patriarchy, and she is forced to endure emotional and physical abuse at the hands of men. Until a shattering act of violence unleashes Artemisia’s righteous fury.

Refusing to be silenced and resolved to best men at their own games, Artemisia does what no woman had dared to do before. She fights back. A bracing historical novel about a woman boldly at odds with her time, Fierce Dreamer explores the fearless determination that would fuel Artemisia Gentileschi’s most courageous works of art and make her independent voice a vital one for our own time.

This book constitutes the first comprehensive history of the network of women who worked at the heart of the English Arts and Crafts movement from the 1870s to the 1930s. Challenging the long-standing assumption that the Arts and Crafts simply revolved around celebrated male designers like William Morris, it instead offers a new social and cultural account of the movement, which simultaneously reveals the breadth of the imprint of women art workers upon the making of modern society. Thomas provides unprecedented insight into how women navigated authoritative roles as “art workers” by asserting expertise across a range of interconnected cultures—from the artistic to the professional, intellectual, entrepreneurial and domestic. Through examination of newly discovered institutional archives and private papers, Zoë Thomas elucidates the critical importance of the spaces around which women conceptualized alternative creative and professional lifestyles.


Previous Art Herstory posts on books about women artists

New Books About History’s Women Artists | Jan–Mar 2020

Ten Intriguing Books About Remarkable Women Artists, a guest post by Carol M. Cram

New Books About History’s Women Artists | Oct–Dec 2019

New Books about Women Artists | Sept 2019

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