ARTS & CULTURE
08/22/2013 01:43 pm ET

Do Critics Paint Women Artists Out The Picture?

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Is there a glass ceiling for women in the arts? When it comes to visual art, a superficial glance by a visiting alien would see 21st-century Britain as one of the best places and times there has ever been for women working as artists. I went to Rome for my holidays. I gorged on paintings, frescoes and statues, from ancient Roman mosaics to Canova nudes. None of these great works of art of ages gone by are credited to women – which doesn't mean there were no women artists at all before modern times. The Roman writer Pliny the Elder lists women artists. The Renaissance writer Giorgio Vasari also praises a handful of women. But art was organised as a male-only craft and women could only sidestep the guild system under exceptional circumstances, such as being the daughter of a painter, like the Baroque artist Artemisia Gentileschi.

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