A Woman’s Touch: National Museum of Women in the Arts

The National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington, D.C., offers the single most important collection of art by women in the world. The museum provides an astonishing survey of women artists representing every major artistic period, from 16th-century Dutch and Flemish still lifes to 20th-century abstract expressionism to postmodern art. General Topics: Art, History, Diversity

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The Bath

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The Bath

1891; Etching and Aquatint

American Impressionist Mary Cassatt was one of the best-known American women painters of the 19th century. Admired in France, where she was a part of the Impressionists’ circle, this native Philadelphian’s return to America went largely unnoticed. She is one of the few American women of her day who became a professional artist.


The Art of the OrdinaryView larger

The Art of the Ordinary

"Jar," 1939 Blackware

This black-on-black jar was made by Maria Montoya Martinez, probably the most famous American Indian artist of the 20th century. Martinez spent her entire life in the pueblo in Northern New Mexico where she was born, learning her craft by watching her aunt and grandmother work. The jar’s silhouette and the contrast between glossy and flat surfaces give it a visual excitement that elevates it far beyond ordinary utility.


Portrait of a Young Noblewoman

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Portrait of a Young Noblewoman

1580; Oil on Canvas

Lavinia Fontana’s "Portrait of a Young Noblewoman, " painted in the late 1500s, established her as a successful portrait painter in her native city of Bologna. Fontana had 11 children, who she supported with her art. In this painting, this young woman’s lavish clothing and jewels give us clues to the life of a young wealthy woman of her day.


A Vase of FlowersView larger

A Vase of Flowers

1716; Oil on wood;

Margareta Haverman painted in the Neterlands in the early 1700s. She was a student of Jan van Huysum.


Virgin and ChildView larger

Virgin and Child

1663; Oil on canvas

This Virgin and Child, by Elisabetta Sirani, shows the sensitivity of woman’s point of view and the fullness of maternal emotion. Sirani , who painted in the 1600s, was much admired in her day, often attracting travelers from across Europe who would come to watch her paint.


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