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During the height of the feminist movement in 1971, feminist art historian Linda Nochlin published an essay titled “Why Have There Been No Great Women Artists?” in the magazine ArtNews. In this brief polemical essay, Nochlin elaborates upon the reasons why there have been no great female equivalents for Michelangelo or Rembrandt and explores the possibilities behind the lack of great female artists throughout the course of history of art. Unlike most feminist intellectuals in her times, she does not conduct her arguments through the typical feminist views, emotional and subjective centered, but rather through “historical analysis of the basic intellectual issues (Nochlin 145).” More strikingly, she dismisses the recent feminist attempts which fundamentally lead to inappropriate answers of the question, why have there been no great women artists? For example, the first reaction to the question is to rediscover forgotten female artists in history of art such as Artemisia Gentileschi. However, Nochlin asserts that such attempt is an inadequate response to the question, and “tacitly reinforce its negative implications (148).” In fact, it supports the notion that the great female artist is fundamentally rare and proves the natural assumption that all greatness in artistic accomplishments has been only reserved for male artist. Another reaction to the question is that women’s work has different formal and expressive qualities which cannot be judged by male situation and experience in art world. So, the work itself has a different kind of greatness, so called feminine style, which essentially contains a female sensibility and experience and a feminine aesthetic. However, again, Nochlin finds it is an inadequate response because there is... ... middle of paper ... ...er genre paintings, Boy Bitten by a Crab, 1550s, brought attention to not only prominent Renaissance biographer Vasari but also Roman gentleman Cavalieri, who wrote his impression on the painting to important male patron Cosimo de’ Medici in 1562. Moreover, a series of self-portraits in 1550s, such as Self-Portrait at the Easel, c. 1550, led Sofonisba to work in the Spanish court of King Philip the second as the first female court painter in 1559. Regardless of her artistic talent and international reputation, Sofonisba had never produced the complex multi-nude figure compositions essentially required for large-scale History Painting since she did not have any opportunity to study nude model. In fact, as a virtuous woman artist, she inscribes on her 1552 Self-Portrait that, “Sofonisba Anguissola ‘virgin’ of Cremona depicted by her own hand from a mirror (Fletcher).”

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