Five Paintings by Underrated Female Artists

Art history isn’t just for humanities nerds who spend too much time at museums (or WikiArt if you’re like me and you can’t travel that much) — a lot of it is very accessible to the general public. However, women artists as a whole are definitely underrated compared to male artists, and some more so than others, so presented below are some paintings by female artists that I hope you’ll enjoy!

Content warning in this article for mention of sexual assault and mildly intense imagery.

The Mysterious Garden by Margaret Macdonald Mackintosh

Margaret Macdonald is an early pioneer of Art Nouveau, a 20th century art movement emphasizing natural, organic forms, and she is known to have inspired Gustav Klimt, who painted the more famous The Kiss. Except Macdonald’s works, like The Mysterious Garden shown above, are cooler because they always portrays women in these serene, vaguely ethereal and queenly ways that make them look like goddesses, whereas the woman in The Kiss looks passive and almost asleep.

Jael and Sisera by Artemisia Gentileschi

Artemisia Gentileschi was raped at the age of eighteen by her father’s friend and tortured in court when she testified against him. Meanwhile, her rapist got off scot-free. If you take a look at her more famous Judith Slaying Holofernes (not the version by Caravaggio), you know she was pissed about it. This painting draws from the Biblical story of Jael (the woman on the right) and Sisera (the sleeping man); Jael killed the general Sisera to save Israel from King Jabin’s troops.

Cats’ Paradise by Remedios Varo

Who needs Dali’s melting clocks and ants when you have the adorably fluffy felines of fellow Surrealist Varo? If you’re a dog person, I’m telling you as a dog owner that you’re required to love this painting. If you’re a cat person, you’re right. Though Varo was in various social circles of poets and artists, including the Surrealists, she said, “Today I do not belong to any group; I paint what occurs to me and that is all.” Though she grew up in Europe, facing political turmoil and even arrest, she enjoyed the tranquility she found living in Mexico—a tranquility evident in the soothing colors and peaceful forest scenery in this painting.

Arizona Landscape by Dorothea Tanning

Every time I look into the eyes of someone in a Dorothea Tanning painting, I think, “Girl, same.” While looking up this painting I learned Tanning lived in Arizona. Apparently the landscape was too red, so she did it as a self-portrait in blue. Mostly, it’s the expression that I love, although I’d totally dye my hair that color.

Self Portrait with Cropped Hair by Frida Kahlo

Speaking of messing with my hair, we all want to do that occasionally andjust transform ourselves on the outside and inside. Especially after a break-up, which Kahlo definitely understood considering how dysfunctional her marriage was.

“Really?” I hear you saying as you look at this painting. “Everyone knows Frida Kahlo!” To that I say, sure, we all know her as the wife of Diego Rivera. But Kahlo’s self-portraits show her in so many different ways, and as so much more than somebody’s wife.

While some of these artists are on the less well-known side, that shouldn’t stop you from appreciating art by women as a whole, including more famous ones like Georgia O’Keeffe. It’s always nice to appreciate the accomplishments of women!

P.S. I personally created the WikiArt page for Margaret Macdonald Mackintosh. You’re welcome.

Image Credit: X X X X X X

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