Four Great Women Artists Worth Knowing

Women painters who broke barriers

Christopher P Jones
6 min readMar 16

Musica (Melody) (1895–1897) by Kate Elizabeth Bunce. Oil on canvas. 51 × 76.3 cm. Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, UK. Image source Birmingham Museums Trust (open access)

There are countless female artists throughout history who have had significant roles in shaping the world of art.

Yet their contributions have historically been undervalued. Factors such as social expectations, gender roles and poor access to education and training academies, prevented women artists from receiving the same patronage and exhibiting opportunities as their male counterparts. As such these barriers have resulted in the invisibility and under-representation of women artists in the halls of “great art”.

Of course, that’s not to say there are no great female artists. On the contrary, since the social activism of the 1960s and 70s, significant numbers of women artists have been recognised as having a defining impact on art history.

In this article, I want to highlight four such powerful artists — shedding light on their lives, talent and creativity.

From the Pre-Raphaelite paintings of Kate Elizabeth Bunce to the modern colour prints of Jacoba van Heemskerck, these women have challenged the conventions of their female stereotypes to become innovators and competitors in art creation. There is no doubt they left an indelible mark on the history of art and deserve recognition for their unique achievements.

Georgia O’Keeffe

The American artist Georgia O’Keeffe is one artist who created works that broadened the possibilities for art.

Series 1, №8 (1919) by Georgia O’Keeffe. Oil on canvas. 50.8 × 40.6 cm. Städtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus, Munich, Germany. Image source Wikimedia Commons

She is most well-known for her magnified close-ups of flowers. Through her detailed observations, O’Keeffe imbued these fragile forms with a sense of grandeur, utilising the techniques of close-up photography to magnify the visible world into a dramatic and monumental display. O’Keeffe created approximately 200 of these flower close-ups, which derive their potency from their enigmatic nature, appearing almost like fragmented recollections or reverberations.