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Sydney J. Freedberg Lecture on Italian Art 2021: "More perfect and excellent than men": The Women Artists of Bologna

In this lecture, released on November 5, 2021, Babette Bohn of Texas Christian University discusses women artists in early modern Italy. Early modern Bologna was exceptional for its many talented women artists. Thanks to a long-standing tradition of honoring accomplished women, several attentive artistic biographers, strong local interest in collecting women’s work, and permissive attitudes toward women studying with male artists who were not family members, Bologna was home to more women artists than any other city in early modern Italy. Bolognese women artists were unusual not only for their large numbers but also for their varied specializations and frequent public success. They painted altarpieces, nudes, mythologies, allegories, portraits, and self-portraits, creating sculptures, drawings, prints, embroidery, and paintings. This lecture challenges some common assumptions about women artists, suggesting productive approaches for future research. 

This is the twenty-fifth annual lecture offered by the National Gallery of Art in this endowed series named after Sydney J. Freedberg (1914–1997), the great specialist of Italian art.