If you consider adding women’s paintings to your selection, look at the few paintings from the 1400s up to the 20th century we discuss in this article, and perhaps you see one you want to start with. There are excellent reproductions available of all the paintings we discuss.
Over centuries artists have been creating paintings of women. Although nude women had been famous in ancient times, nude models were not used in the early Western Christian environment until the 1400s. As a result, women in paintings in the early Christian era were generally linked to Biblical themes and individuals.
In the late 1400’s Sandro Botticelli painted the first non-religious woman nude since ancient times. This revolutionized the whole view regarding how women could be portrayed. However, some of the early women portraits were controversial at the time when they were created. There are many reasons for the controversy and include aspects such as the custom in the Renaissance Period. Women had to show in the profile and never be portrayed “looking at you.”
Birth of Venus – Sandro Botticelli
The first non-religious woman nude since ancient times was painted in the mid-1480s by Sandro Botticelli. His famous painting “Birth of Venus” represents the return to the ideals of antiquities. Botticelli “copied” the narrative and the elements of the composition from ancient Greece. The story about Venus’ ride on the shell originated with the poet Homer.
Mona Lisa – Leonardo de Vinci
The “Mona Lisa,” painted by Leonardo da Vinci is probably the most famous painting of a woman. It was created in 1505 – about a century after Botticelli’s famous, revolutionary “Birth of Venus” painting.
By using oil paint and his unique shadowing technique, Da Vinci achieved a new level of realism. This realism influenced many other Italian Renaissance artists. As a result of Da Vinci’s technique, Mona Lisa’s skin looks smooth and her eyes expressive. Her smile is so intense that it has captivated viewers and artists for centuries.
Girl with a Pearl Earring – Jan Vermeer
Another one leading in the list of famous paintings of women is Jan Vermeer’s “Girl with a Pearl,” painted in 1665. This painting is often called “The Dutch Mona Lisa” because the girl’s head is the main subject in the painting. As the pearl earring is the main focal point and Vermeer has masterfully used the interplay between the light and shadow, the painting is compared with Da Vinci’s “Mona Lisa.”
Woman with a Parasol – Madame Monet and Her Son – Claude Monet
Monet portrayed his first wife and son walking through a meadow in Argenteuil on a windy day. It was created in 1875. The painting is also known as “The Stroll.” It is an example of Monet’s unique way of using color in the typical style of Impressionism.
It is speculated that it was painted outdoors and in one session. This explains the spontaneous feel of the painting. It is one of his most significant works from that period- 100 cm by 81 cm.
The Portrait of Madame X – John Singer Sargent
“The Portrait of Madame X” was painted by John Singer Sargent in the 1880s. It is also known as “Portrait of Madame Pierre Gautreau.” It was considered controversial when it was painted as it was suggested that her pose was sexually provocative.
Sargent later said that he had purposefully and carefully chosen the pose for the model. Virginie Gautreau’s model is depicted with her body facing forward in a bold stance while her head is painted in profile view. He successfully both hides and reveals the model’s form simultaneously in this painting.
Art critics remarked that the artist had intentionally used the pose and other aspects like the black dress to enhance the curves of the woman.
Olympia – Edouard Manet
Edouard Manet’s “Olympia” is a nude depiction of a courtesan. When it was painted in 1856, it caused an outrage among the people of Paris. According to the people in Paris, it humanized prostitution. This was not very popular at the time Manet created his painting.
It seems as if Olympia’s eyes are focused on the viewer. This also enraged the public. It was unusual for women, and specifically a nude prostitute, to stare at you so bluntly.
Portrait of Edith – Egon Schiele
Another famous painting of a woman is by the artist from Vienna, Egon Schiele. He created a stunning portrait of his wife in 1915. The tender image of his wife was painted the same year they married. It shows her doll-like features and long arms. What stands out in this vibrant painting is the colorful dress that dominates the artwork.
Paintings of women have been produced for centuries, and they are still used as themes for artworks. Many of these paintings of women have become famous or have an interesting background story.
If you want to acquire reproductions of any of the paintings mentioned in this article, or are intrigued by paintings of women, look for a more excellent choice of paintings. 1st-art-gallery is the world’s largest supplier of Made-to-Order Oil Paintings and has excellent summaries and photos of works depicting women available, it is a perfect place to start.