Lund Humphries' Commissioning Editor for Art History, Erika Gaffney, provides an exciting update on the progress of the Illuminating Women Artists series: 


Women’s History Month is barely half over, and already there is almost too much news about women artists to keep up with! The first half of March has presented us with:

  • the addition of three seventeenth-century female painters to the permanent display in the Rijksmuseum’s Gallery of Honour;
  • online talks and presentations to do with women painters and sculptors;
  • a plethora of new scholarly and popular trade books about history’s women artists from the Renaissance to the twentieth century; and
  • many new exhibitions about women artists


Adding to this cornucopia, on 8th March, Lund Humphries and Getty Publications announced the collaboration of the two presses in publishing at least four volumes in the forthcoming book series Illuminating Women Artists.


The first titles to appear will be Luisa Roldán, by Catherine Hall-van den Elsen, in September 2021; and Artemisia Gentileschi, by Sheila Barker, in March 2022. As Art Herstory reported last July, the four other books under contract as of last summer feature artists Plautilla Nelli; Barbara Longhi; Judith Leyster; and Rachel Ruysch.


Now, it is exciting to present an update to the list of women artists to be featured in the series. Here, in order by date of birth, is the list of artists about whom we have contracted books in the time since we announced the subjects of the first six volumes:


Sofonisba Anguissola (Italian, c. 1532–1625), by Cecilia Gamberini

This book explores the evolution of Sofonisba Anguissola’s art from her youth in Cremona, through her service in the court of Philip II, to her later years as a married woman in Sicily and Genoa. The volume places special emphasis on the social, political and cultural preconditions surrounding Sofonisba Anguissola's role and status as a lady-in-waiting to Elizabeth of Valois, since her experience at the court profoundly impacted her development as an artist. In order to delineate how she started to serve and paint in Spain, and therefore to better explain her later artistic career in Italy, the author focuses on her education, her noble status, her family ties, and her connections with noble courts in Spain and Italy.


Cecilia Gamberini is an independent art historian, who also teaches Italian literature and history. Her recent publications include a chapter in Women Artists in the Early Modern Courts of Europe, c. 1450–1700 (2021).



Clara Peeters (Flemish, 1594–after 1657), by Alejandro Vergara

Although not much is known about the life of Flemish artist Clara Peeters, approximately 40 paintings by the artist, all still lifes, are known today. In this volume Alejandro Vergara addresses Clara Peeters’ contribution to and influence on the genre of still life painting, including her influence on Pieter Claesz. and Floris van Dijck, among others. He also engages with the fascinating issue of the insertion of Clara´s self-portraits in her works as reflected images; and analyzes paintings by the artist which have surfaced in recent years, including "Still Life with Flowers Surrounded by Insects and a Snail," now at the National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C.


Alejandro Vergara is Chief Curator of Flemish and Northern European Paintings at the Museo Nacional del Prado. He was the curator for The Art of Clara Peeters (2016-17). the Prado’s first-ever solo show of a woman artist (co-organised with the Koninklijk Museum voor Schone Kunsten in Antwerp).



Louise Moillon (French, 1610–1696), by Lesley Stevenson

Louise Moillon’s paintings focus closely on apparently simple arrangements of fruit and vegetables on the table-top. They celebrate both the pleasures of the bourgeois domestic environment and the wider sensory appeal that was part of a growing interest in early modern Europe in the natural sciences. This is the first scholarly monograph in English devoted to the seventeenth-century French artist. It reassesses her importance as a painter of still life (and occasional genre paintings) through a consideration of the context in which she was working; the centrality of the genre of still life in the Saint-Germain-des-Prés area of Paris in the middle of the C17th; and a close visual analysis of her works.


Lesley Stevenson teaches art history at Manchester Metropolitan University. She has published four books about French artists. She provided entries on Louise Moillon for the Dictionary of Art (available as Grove Art Online) and for the Dictionary of Women Artists (Fitzroy Dearborn, 1997).



Josefa de Óbidos (Josefa de Ayala Figueira; Spanish-born Portuguese, c. 1630–1684), by Carmen Ripolles

Paying particular attention to new discoveries—including recently recovered works and new information about her father’s career—this is the first monograph published in English on Josefa de Óbidos. It highlights the global ramifications of Óbidos artistic expression, and challenges earlier misconceptions about the artist, including the notion of her provincial isolation, her lack of invention, and the inherently “feminine” qualities of her work. It also revisits and revises the assumption that the artist was overly influenced by religious mysticism and that she applied it to the entirety of her oeuvre, including the small number of still lifes she actually signed. Josefa de Óbidos offers a more nuanced and contextualized, but also accessible, overview of an artist who is not yet well known or understood.


Carmen Ripollés teaches art history at Portland State University. She specializes in the art of the early modern Hispanic world, with emphasis on early modern artistic theory, notions of artistic identity, and material culture.



Gesina ter Borch (Dutch, 1631–1690), by Adam Eaker

Gesina ter Borch represents a rarity among early modern women artists, as a figure amply documented in archival sources—down to the name of her dog—with a securely attributed and thoroughly catalogued oeuvre. Yet until this book, she has never been the subject of an independent monograph in any language; or of sustained discussion outside of the context of her far more famous brother, Gerard. The text explores women’s artistic practices and high-life genre painting grounded in a globalized art history, with an emphasis on Gesina ter Borch’s engagement with Dutch colonialism and the international exchange of images.


Adam Eaker is Assistant Curator of Northern Baroque and British Painting at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. He is a specialist in Northern European and British painting of the sixteenth through the eighteenth century.



Mary Beale (English, 1633–1699), by Helen Draper

The product of twelve years of new research, Mary Beale surveys the life and art of one of the most biographically and artistically significant painters of late seventeenth-century Britain. Lively and accessible, it will be the first monographic account to treat Beale, or any other pre-eighteenth-century British woman, fully as an artist. Helen Draper describes Beale’s studio practice: she explores the development of the artist’s style and technique, choice of materials, the procedures of her portrait sittings and, uniquely, a detailed analysis of the financial basis of her business. The goal of this volume is to recover Mary Beale and her oeuvre once and for all, and to anchor them firmly within the British art-historical continuum.


Helen Draper is a paintings conservator and an art historian with special expertise on Mary Beale. She has published articles about the artist in scholarly journals, and she has spoken about Beale on BBC TV and BBC4 Radio.



Elisabetta Sirani (Italian, 1638–1665), by Adelina Modesti

Based on extensive archival documentation and primary sources—her biography and eulogy, inventories and sale catalogues, work diary, trial testimony, literary texts—this book analyses the life, work, critical fortune and legacy of the Bolognese artist Elisabetta Sirani. The focus will be on women’s agency and Sirani’s identity as both a woman and an artist: Sirani’s professional ambition, self-fashioning, and literary construction as Bologna’s pre-eminent cultural heroine. The book will make a major original contribution in the area of Sirani’s clients and extensive patronage networks, as well as throw light on the promotional strategies engaged by Elisabetta herself, and by her father-manager and protectors—patrons, agents, and poets—that contributed to the professional success she enjoyed during her all-too-brief life.  


Adelina Modesti is an Honorary Senior Fellow at the University of Melbourne. She is the author of two previous books on Sirani, Elisabetta Sirani: una virtuosa del Seicento bolognese (2004) and Elisabetta Sirani “Virtuosa”: Women's Cultural Production in Early Modern Bologna (2015). She has also published several articles and book chapters about the artist.



Rosalba Carriera (Italian, 1673–1757), by Angela Oberer

Venetian-born artist Rosalba Carriera was one of the most famous women artists in eighteenth-century Europe. By choosing to produce miniatures and pastel portraits, Carriera created and dominated an entire market, which allowed her to remain independent from any patron. Instead, she catered to the illustrious travellers on their Grand Tour: kings, princes, diplomats, intellectuals and artists from all over Europe were among her clients. Despite the fact that hundreds of her works are held in public and private collections all over the world, there has been no accessible, illustrated overview in English of her life and artistic achievements. Focusing on the iconographic and interpretative in the historical context of her life as a single artist in Venice, this book offers a reader-friendly guide through Carriera´s life, the people she met, her clients and her artistic approach.


Angela Oberer is an art historian and a teacher of art history. Her book The Life and Work of Rosalba Carriera (1673–1757): The Queen of Pastel (2020) has been reviewed in Hyperallergic and Apollo Magazine, among other venues.



Joanna Koerten (Dutch, 1650–1715), by Martha Moffitt Peacock

In her lifetime, Joanna Koerten was an artist of tremendous international fame; she received commissions from royalty throughout Europe. While she worked in a variety of techniques, she primarily achieved her international fame through the art of paper cutting. One work sold to the Emperor Leopold I for 4000 guilders—which could be thought of as proportional today to nearly a quarter of a million dollars! She was so acclaimed that Peter the Great, among other dignitaries, visited her studio, which some contemporaries celebrated as the “eighth wonder of the world.” This book will re-establish Koerten as a significant artist for whom paper became a powerful and celebrated medium. The author reveals the artist’s tactics for manipulating both technique and subject matter to establish for paper a serious position within an artistic hierarchy that primarily celebrated oil painting and lofty subjects.  


Martha Moffitt Peacock is a Professor of Art History at Brigham Young University. Her work includes sustained focus on women and women artists. She is the author of Heroines, Harpies, and Housewives: Imaging Women of Consequence in the Dutch Golden Age (2020), as well as numerous articles and book chapters.




Watch this space for publication dates for all volumes in the Illuminating Women Artists series. We will keep you posted as the book manuscripts are delivered!


Erika Gaffney is the Lund Humphries Commissioning Editor for Art History. She is also the Founder of the Art Herstory project.




Image Captions and Credits:

Sofonisba Anguissola, Three children with dog / alternative title: Two Sisters and a Brother of the Artist, circa 1570-1590, oil on panel, 74 cm x 95 cm. Collection Lord Methuen, Corsham Court, Wiltshire. Photographer: The Yorck Project (2002) 10.000 Meisterwerke der Malerei (DVD-ROM).

Clara Peeters, Still life with flowers and gold cups, 1612, oil on oak, 73cm x 62cm. Courtesy of the Staatliche Kunsthalle Karlsruhe. It is one of the few signed and dated works from the early days of still life painting.

Louise Moillon, Still Life with a Basket of Fruit and a Bunch of Asparagus, 1630, Oil on panel, 53.3 × 71.3 cm. Courtesy of Wirt D. Walker Fund

Josefa De Ayala, Reading the Fate of the Christ Child, 1667, oil on copper, 23 × 29 cm. Courtesy of Museum Purchase, Robert H. Tannahill Foundation Fund.

Gesina ter Borch, Self-portrait, 1661, brush, 243mm × 360mm. Open resource courtesy of the Rijksmuseum.

Mary Beale, Viscountess Frances Hatton, oil on canvas, 76.8 x 64.2 cm. Courtesy of Smithsonian American Art Museum, Bequest of Mabel Johnson Langhorne

Elisabetta Sirani, Venus and Cupid, 1664, Oil on canvas, 105 x 82 cm. Private collection.

Rosalba Carriera, Allegory of Painting, 1730s, pastel and red chalk on blue laid paper mounted on canvas (on strainer), 44.3 × 34.1 cm. Courtesy of Samuel H. Kress Collection. Open Access image. National Gallery of Art, Washington DC.

Joanna Koerten, Portrait of William III of Orange-Nassau (1650-1702), c. 1700, Cut paper, 270 x 230 mm, Museum de Lakenhal.