A fight. The fight of women painters between the end of the Enlightenment and the dawn of the July Monarchy. Some of their names are known. The majority are not. But this was not always the case. Despite being “held back” in the name of their gender, many of them enjoyed a level of recognition at the time that contradicts the invisibility with which art history’s dominant narrative has saddled them until recently. As such, this fight is also, and above all, our own. Let us break from the circular reasoning around the “female” that continues to detract from the history of art and the collective memory of the artists and artworks of the so-called “minor” genders. Let us resist the rhetorical and political concept of “greatness”. Let us channel our curiosity into something other than the exception they may have represented. Just for once, let us not have to specify “women painters”. Let us once again hear the voice of controversy, of the multiplicity, singularity, diversity of perspectives and investments.
Let us learn about their environment, their social circle, their training, their career strategy, their clientele, their reception among the press and public, their role in the changes that art underwent between 1780 and 1830. Tastes, fashions, ideas, social conventions, clichés, imaginations: how did they go about using this information, conscious and unconscious, to create paintings? What did being a painter entail for them? Let us contemplate their work.