Great Women Artists: from Lavinia Fontana to Barbara Hepworth

7 week course: 29th May - 17th July 2020

Update: This course will now be run online

Tune in from anywhere in the world to watch, or enjoy a recorded version of the lecture which can be accessed for up to 24 hours afterwards. Each session will last approximately 2 hours with a short break and a question/answer session. Students will be provided with comprehensive hand-outs and a suggested reading list/online resources before the course begins - these will be sent by email. 

Participant numbers for courses will be limited to allow for extended discussion. Those wishing to use the microphone/webcam function can appear in the lecture to ask their questions. There will also be a virtual "coffee break" where those wishing to use this function can chat informally and see one another.


In 2019 a portrait by Elisabeth-Louise Vigée Le Brun (1755-1842) set a record for any female Old Master when it was sold at Sotheby’s for $7.2m. In the same year the Prado Museum in Madrid dedicated an exceptional and highly acclaimed exhibition to the 16th-century Italian artists Sofonisba Anguissola and Lavinia Fontana, and this year the National Gallery and Royal Academy were due to celebrate the work of Artemisia Gentileschi and Angelica Kauffman in two major monographic exhibitions, sadly now postponed.  These are promising and inspiring steps towards the revival and recovery of the reputations of many great female artists who achieved fame and renown amongst their contemporaries, but whose lives became obscured over time and whose work was often attributed to their male counterparts, a disturbingly common phenomenon. There is still much to be done to redress the balance: in 2018 Sotheby’s sold just 14 works by female Old Masters, compared to 1100 male artists. The Prado’s exhibition was only the second in its entire history dedicated to a female painter. And the National Gallery’s collection of works by female artists represents just 0.5% of its total holdings. However, thanks to the efforts of a number of scholars and to many high-profile institutions attempting to redress gender disparity in their collections, less familiar names such as Sofonisba Anguissola and Clara Peeters are again rising to the fore. We will learn about many of them in our series of lectures.

Our new course looks at the fascinating and complex role that women have played as painters, draftsmen, photographers and sculptors from 1500 to the modern day. How were women such as Artemisia Gentileschi able to make a living in an essentially male-dominated industry, and why have they fallen into obscurity today? We then explore later centuries when major figures under discussion include Elizabeth Louise Vigée le Brun, Marietta Robusti, Rosalba Carriera,  Adélaïde Labille-Guiard, Berthe Morisot, Gwen John, Julia Margaret Cameron and Frida Kahlo.

There will also be a special guest lecture by eminent author and art historian Dr Richard Stemp, celebrating the life and work of Barbara Hepworth.

Live streamed lectures are on Friday mornings and all sessions run from 11.15-1.15.British Summer Time

There is no lecture on June 19th.


Further Information


1. BOOK.

Click on the gold “Book This Course/Event” button on the right hand side now, fill in the online booking form and pay online. Please use a UK account/card (if you are paying using a non-UK account/card please email us to arrange alternative payment methods). You will be notified automatically by email once your booking has been accepted.


Download ZOOM once you have booked - please print/download the instructions in this downloadable link and read them carefully. 


You will receive an email at least 24 hours before the course asking you to register.** This is a privacy function enabling only registered participants to attend. After registering you will immediately receive the log in link to the lecture/s.

** Please note that these details are sent out in office hours, so if you book on a weekend you may not receive them until Monday. You must register with the same name that you have booked under and at least 45 minutes before the lecture begins, otherwise you may not be able to watch. If you have not received your email confirmations, please check your ‘deleted items' and 'junk mail' folders.


Join the lecture at least ten minutes before it is scheduled to start, to ensure everything is working.

If you are not able to watch the lecture at the time it is live-streamed, you can still book online, as above. You will be contacted after the lecture has been broadcast with instructions on how to access the recorded lecture, for up to 24 hours afterwards.

Bookings close the day before the lecture is streamed.

Please refer to our Terms and Conditions for booking this event. We regret that we are unable to offer technical support with Zoom but tips can be found in the attachment. If you would like to book more than one event, please book separately for each lecture that you would like to attend, thank you. If you are booking for more than one person, it is important that you include their email address so that we can send them the lecture link too. We regret we are unable to offer refunds but don't worry if you are not able to attend, as we will send you the recorded lecture link.

On April 27 Zoom released Zoom 5.0. This new version provides increased protection for meeting data and resistance against tampering. After May 30 all Zoom users with older versions will be required to update the Zoom app before joining meetings.  Do ensure you have upgraded your Zoom to the 5.0 version - it's very easy to do. zoom.com/download

Images: from left to right, self-portraits of Sofonisba Anguissola © Lancut Museum, Poland; Lavinia Fontana © Accademia di San Luca, Rome; Artemisia Gentileschi © The Royal Collection, London; Adélaïde Labille-Guiard © Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.  Photograph of Barbara Hepworth holding a file with The plaster for Curved Form (Bryher II),1961, © Bowness, Hepworth Estate

It is wonderful that my art history learning can go on during lockdown. It is lovely to sit in my own armchair and have your brilliant lectures delivered in my home.”

Mrs J Witter

Read more testimonials and comments


  • A celebration of women artists from the medieval to the modern period
  • Online, live lectures
  • Viewable from anywhere in the world
  • Special guest lecture included



Booking is now closed.

If you have any questions regarding the course or booking please send us an email or
call on +44 (0)1932 267322

Recommended Reading

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