Kitty Kielland (Norwegian, 1843–1914), Evening Landscape at Stokkavannet, 1890. Oil on canvas, 45 1/4 x 78 3/4 in. The Royal Collections, Oslo, DKS.001128. Photo: Jan Haug. Courtesy American Federation of Arts
Landscape painting, long considered a minor genre that required little or no artistic imagination, was a subject women artists were historically encouraged to explore. However, professional women artists defied social expectations to push the boundaries of this subject matter. The paintings displayed in the exhibition reveal how women renewed landscape painting and contributed to the shift from Realism to Impressionism and Symbolism during the late 1800s.
By painting landscapes with which they had a connection, women artists engaged more broadly with the modern world. They might depict Paris’s public parks and private gardens, the modern city, the resort beaches of Normandy and Brittany, or the familiar, almost sacred landscapes of their home countries. By including figures of their friends or loved ones in the landscape, women artists further claimed the genre for themselves.
A fully illustrated catalogue, Women Artists in Paris, 1850–1900, has been published by the American Federation of Arts and Yale University Press. Along with an art-historical overview by curator Laurence Madeline, the catalogue includes essays by Jane R. Becker, collections management associate, Metropolitan Museum of Art; Richard Kendall, former curator at large, Clark Art Institute; Bridget Alsdorf, associate professor, History of Art, Princeton University; and Vibeke Hansen, curator, Nasjonalmuseet, Oslo.