Teaching drawing in the first half of the 19th century. Drawings of Anne Marie Brandis and Filomena Lazarini Lidija Tavčar
Summary: Feminist theorists called attention to institutional exclusion from art training of women who were, despite their talent, thus denied opportunities equal to their male peers. Women were not allowed to be trained at European “art academies” until the end of the 19th century. Drawing the nude model, which was at the very core of academic training programs from the second half of the 16th century until the end of the 19th century, was forbidden to women due to moral reasons. Because the mastering of human anatomy was essential in producing historical paintings, which were at the top of the hierarchy of art genres, epic women artists were very few. However, painter Angelica Kauffmann (1741–1807) was an exception. In general, women artists had to content themselves with motifs that ranked lower in the hierarchy of genres. Hence they became portraitists, and a disproportionately great number of them painted still-lifes, which were the lowest-ranked motifs. Feminist theorists have established that the most important question in relation to social and institutional obstacles that women artists faced is not the one of their relative success, their quality or the lack of it, but how they did create despite all these constraints. In the 19th century, only the early stage of art training was available to women in private classes, including drawing copies of paintings and prints and painting classical sculptures and plaster casts. In the first half of the 19th century, the girls of the Brandis-Lazarini noble families received a three-year drawing training at the beginner’s stage. A number of their drawings, kept in the National Gallery of Slovenia, Ljubljana, help to reconstruct the method employed by their teachers, notable painters, in their art training.