Monday, April 11, 2016

Seeing Ourselves: Women's Self-Portraits

Seeing Ourselves
Women’s Self-Portraits
by Frances Borzello
Published by Thames & Hudson (May 17, 2016)

Newly released by Thames and Hudson, Seeing Ourselves: Women's Self-Portraits is an updated and rewritten version by author Frances Borzello. Borzello has created a vivid depiction of the lives of  female artists through the decades. She eloquently illustrates how women were suppressed by societal issues not recognizing the talent of many female artists and cultures that forbade their expression of confidence, pride and genius.

Mary Beale, Self-portrait (detail), c. 1675-80.
Oil on sacking,  (35 1/4 x 29 1/4).
Manor House Museum, Bury St Edmunds. Courtesy of St. Edmundsbury Borough Council

From the author: "A book that began as a passion. For years I collected copies of self portraits by women artists. One day when I opened the drawer that held them , I realized that I had over a hundred, dating back to the sixteenth century. 

It was inevitable that I would ask if the social pressures on women had dictated their depictions of themselves. What I found was fascinating. Forbidden by the conventions of past centuries to boast about themselves, to work in fields that were seen as exclusively male, and expected to know their place and to be forever feminine, they still managed to speak about their artistic convictions, to hold on to their femininity, and yes, to boast about themselves by exploiting the language of self portraiture to their advantage."

Berthe Morisot, Self-portrait with her Daughter Julie, 1885.
Oil on canvas, (28 3/8 x 35 13/16).
Private Collection

As salons and galleries slowly began to allow women (such as Berthe Morisot and Mary Cassatt) to exhibit their art, the Impressionist era ushered in a heightened regard for these female artists' resounding works and creativity . 

Frances Benjamin Johnston, Self-portrait, c.1896. Photograph.
The Library of Congress, Washington D.C.

Marianne von Werefkin, Self-portrait, 1908-10.Oil on cardboard, (20 1/8 x 13).
St├Ądtische Galerie, im Lenbachhaus, Munich

Gluck, Self-portrait with cigarette, 1925. Oil on canvas. 
Courtesy of The Fine Art Society, London. © Estate of ‘Gluck’ (Hannah Gluckstein)
The 20th century brought about an era where artists broke through the "forbidden" and where nothing was out of bounds in the creation of art. Finally many women expressed themselves freely in painting. Alice Neel's nude self portrait at the age of 80! Frieda Kahlo's painful existence and isolation depicted in lush, albeit often distressing detail. Cindy Sherman's depiction of female stereotypes and exploration of identity.

Florine Stettheimer, Natatorium Undine, 1927.Oil and encaustic on canvas.  
(50 1/2 x 60). 
The Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center, Vassar College, Poughkeepsie, 
NY. Gift of Ettie Stettheimer, 1949


Oil on Masonite
16 x 12 inches (40.6 x 30.5 cm) 
Bequest of A. Conger Goodyear, 1966
Thank you to Thames and Hudson for providing a publicity copy of this eloquent book by Frances Borzello on women's self-portraiture through the ages.

You may purchase Seeing Ourselves: Women's Self Portraits at  Thames and

Thank you to my Family, Friends and Followers who support The Arts!

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