The first collective, critical historical study of women artists in Britain and France during the Revolutionary era
In the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, hundreds of women in London and Paris became professional artists, exhibiting and selling their work in unprecedented numbers. Many rose to the top of their nations’ artistic spheres and earned substantial incomes from their work, regularly navigating institutional inequalities expressly designed to exclude members of their sex. In the first collective, critical history of women artists in Britain and France during the Revolutionary era, Paris Spies-Gans explores how they engaged with and influenced the mainstream cultural currents of their societies at pivotal moments of revolutionary change.
Through an interdisciplinary analysis of the experiences of these narrative painters, portraitists, sculptors, and draughtswomen, this book challenges longstanding assumptions about women in the history of art. Importantly, it demonstrates that women built profitable artistic careers by creating works in nearly every genre practiced by men, in similar proportions and to aesthetic acclaim. It also reveals that hundreds of women studied with male artists, and even learned to draw from the nude. Where traditional histories have left a void, this generously illustrated book illuminates a lively world of artistic production.
Featuring an extensive range of these artists’ paintings, drawings, sculptures, and writings, alongside contemporary prints, satires, and works by their male peers, A Revolution on Canvas transforms our understanding of the opportunities and identities of women artists of the past.
Distributed for the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art
Paris A. Spies-Gans is a historian and an art historian. She has held fellowships at the Harvard Society of Fellows, the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art, the Getty Research Institute, the Lewis Walpole Library, and the Yale Center for British Art. Her research concentrates on the history of women, gender, and the politics of artistic expression.
“Revelatory.”—Sebastian Smee, Washington Post
“Exhaustive, groundbreaking research. . . . [A] beautifully produced book.”—Jacqueline Riding, Art Newspaper, “Top Art Books of 2022”
“By making its points compellingly and driving the agenda forward, A Revolution on Canvas is an important contribution to the field.”—Tabitha Barber, Art Newspaper
“This publication, which might be one of the most anticipated art history books of the year, draws heavily on new research and statistical analysis on the subject of women artists during the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries.”—Sothebys.com
“The volume is informed by the author’s rigorous analysis. . . . Spies-Gans rejects previous assumptions about women in the arts, providing an absorbing chronicle of the Revolutionary age.”—D. H. Cibelli, Choice
Winner of the 2023 Stansky Book Prize, sponsored by NACBS
Shortlisted for the 2023 Berger Prize, sponsored by The British Art Journal
Received Honorable Mention from the Louis A. Gottschalk Prize, sponsored by American Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies
Name One of the Top Art Books of 2022 by The Art Newspaper
On the 2022 Top Art Books List by The Conversation
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