A drawing of a young person with short dark hair looking to the side.


Evelyn de Morgan, Head of Medea, c. 1889, black chalk heightened with gold paint. The Clark, gift of Jeannene Booher, 2023.3.2

Over the nineteenth century, opportunities for women in Britain to receive art training slowly increased, though they still lagged behind the standard of that offered to men. While some women artists continued to learn their craft at home, others studied at art academies such as the forward-thinking Slade School of Art, which gave women access to live models from the school’s founding in the early 1870s—well before the Royal Academy followed suit. At the same time, modes of depicting women were undergoing a rapid flux. Even as male painters from the last third of the century cultivated a retrograde or otherworldly image of woman—idealized, abstract, and somewhat fragile—women artists countered these tropes with portrayals that asserted female strength, independence, and modernity.