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).
Städtische 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!

The Arts by Karena


donna baker said...

Karena, I did a self portrait in oils once and my kids said "you look mad." I told them I wasn't going to sit through the entire process smiling and grinning. So much for my attempt.

Katie Clooney said...

Looks like a beautiful book. I think I would have hit it off with Frances Benjamin Johnston. She's got spunk. Enjoy your week, Karena!

Vel Criste said...

Very interesting indeed, and such a beautiful book!

martinealison said...

Bonjour chère amie,

Un livre qui me plait déjà beaucoup...
Un très joli billet qui met en avant toutes ces femmes tellement talentueuses.
J'aime beaucoup l'autoportrait de Marianne von Werefkin.

Gros bisous

The enchanted home said...

Fascinating that her collection of these portraits led to this incredible book...proof that the best ideas are always born out of some kind of passion. Even then when things were frowned upon or self expression was not openly accepted, women still had a powerful voice to show themselves via day I say this world will be fully run by women. I so believe that:)

Shirley@Housepitality Designs said...

This truly is an amazing book....I would love to see a museum feature the works of many times we see the works of a particular artist or a theme such as the one currently in our area of "Art in Bloom" ... how wonderful it would be just to feature the art of women...

therelishedroost said...

OH my gosh I love this!!Thanks for sharing my friend!

La Contessa said...

What was that from...a slogan from a cigarette commercial??

LBDDiaries said...

What a fascinating book! I love what fascinates others because it ends up "being" fascinating - if that makes sense!!

Elizabeth@ Pine Cones and Acorns said...

Wow! This book looks fabulous! I cannot wait to get it.

Teresa Hatfield ~ Splendid Sass said...

This is such an interesting and beautiful post. I have always loved self portraits. They do have a story of their own.
Thank you for sharing.

Pura Vida said...

Hello my friend, every art year my students do a self portait..I should probably upgrade and call them selfies

Cleo from Jersey said...

Absolutely fabulous post, Karena. Thank you for bringing this to our attention. I loved this entire post.

Debra Phillips said...

hi karena

what a fascinating book and introduction. discrimination crept into every fiber of society, unbelievable!

Castles Crowns and Cottages said...

Dearest Karena, hello!!! A self portrait....hmmmm....I have never even considered this, but what an important achievement for so many woman who have the courage to portray themselves as such! Lovely...and thank you my dear for your kind comments on my blog post.

Teresa Gardner said...

This also sounds like a great book and i agree with an above comment-what a great show this would make at a gallery or museum.

Laura Ingalls Gunn said...

I just finished a class on portraiture which I loved! I think I will need to add this book to my rgeadin pile.

Ivy Lane said...

Thank you for sharing this! I agree, it would make for a wonderful exhibit at an art museum! I would definitely go!


Splendid Market said...

Oh, Karena, this is lovely, I can't wait to get this and scour every page!! You dig up the most amazing information.

michele said...

love this. and self portrait with monkey. ahhhhhh. isn't it extraordinary to think of that time when mirrors were not hanging upon the walls, and it was only at their rise that we begin to see such art emerge...peace to you, friend.

Catherine Robinson said...

This book looks favourite portrait is the self portrait with the always find something wonderful Karena, thank you xx

Heather Orr Lindstrom said...

Karena, I agree with Anita, it takes some courage to create a self-portrait. This is an inspiring collection to be sure.
Lovely post and happy weekend!

Karen said...

What a wonderful book this would be to own. The examples you've shown are some of my favorite artists.
As always, such an informative and interesting post.

Rié|Portobello Design said...

What an amazing collection of portraiture the author has! Seeing Ourselves, literally through their work! Fascinating. xxRié

Paisley Curtain said...

This is an interesting book, how often do we see a book on self portraits of women artists. Seeing oneself through "own artistic eye" has a whole lot different dimension.

Best wishes.

leslie said...

This definitely looks like a must read book!!!! Thanks so much for sharing it with us all! xo Hope you are well
Leslie Sinclair

Celia Becker said...

What a wonderful post Karena and so timely with Mother's Day tomorrow. I too love portraits of women and enjoyed so many of them recently on a visit to The Met. Thank you for telling us about this beautiful book and the very interesting author. It's hard to imagine that such talented women were suppressed in their time and not appreciated. It reminds me of the writer Jane Austen who led the way for women writers.

Celia Becker @

La Petite Gallery said...

OH! those eyebrows of Frida Kahlo.
She had lesbian girlfriends and lived with Diego Rivera.
This was a great subject, great post.
Hope you are happy and well.

La Petite Gallery said...

I looked up Hannah's work- love it. yvonne

Burlap Luxe said...

Hi Karena,
Self portrait what a book, yet with the selfie craze out there everyone in our young generation is living out the self portrait.
And I wonder where this will go in the centuries to come with all the selfies out there :)
I love the portrait by Marianne von Werefkin, I wonder what was behind her eye thought so intense.
And colour and paint strokes to match.

A wonderful postal for the contessas you've come along way baby, yes we have!

See you soon.


Debra Phillips said...

thank you for bringing this book to my attention karena. looks absolutely fascinating!

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beautiful artworks

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