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Gender and Generational Art

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Gender and Generational
Gender in the 16
th
Century: Maiden Women, 1561- Sofonisba Anguissola (Self Portrait)
Through art, one is able to draw conclusions on the roles that were expected of each
gender within an era. The 16
th
century art gives light into the societal expectations of the different
genders of this particular period. In the 1561 self-portrait by Sofonisba Anguissola, she pains the
picture of what noble women were supposed to be; educated and well cultured. In her painting,
Anguissola is playing a piano. This is intentionally done to depict her as an elite and cultured
noble rather than a craftsperson or artisan. The presence of the chaperone in the background goes
to emphasize the fact that she is a maiden from a reputable background.
The approach used by Anguissola in depicting the 16
th
century cultured woman is
embraced by other artists of the period. The other aspects of this painting that is present in other
self-portraits by women include simple dresses and straightforward look. This was not common
with the paintings of the aristocrats.

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Generational in the 19
th
Century: Impressionism, 1872 – Impression, soleil lavant
(Impression, Sunrise)
The story of the 19
th
Century generational art is told by the impressionism movement.
Sprung by the French artist Claude Monet in the 1870s, impressionism depicted paintings with
passionate color vibration. Monet’s 1872 painting, Impression, soleil lavant, is where the styles
name originated. The painting shows sunrise in the port of Le Havre using thin bust visible brush
strokes with stress on the illustration of light. This developed to become the hallmark of
impressionist paintings. This was a transition from the traditional painting where the paintings
were restricted to studio painting of landscape and portraits. Their approach broke from the ranks
of academic paintings by capturing realistic scenes and effects of light in the outdoor contexts.

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