Blog post 3: Women in Renaissance Art

My paper is finally finished! That being said, I regret that it doesn’t include all of the information that I found in my research. Some of the essays that I read covered very specific, niche topics, and while they were very interesting, they just didn’t fit neatly into a paper that was meant to provide a general overview.

Here’s the introduction to my paper. The full paper is posted below.

In my Monroe project proposal, I set out to “examine the social status of women in the context of Renaissance art.” In my research, I have found that Renaissance art reveals information about women’s social condition in various ways. As is to be expected, the visual content of art is revealing. Thus, the fine clothing and jewels displayed in female marriage portraits show the way in which brides were used as a means to display family wealth and honor. However, the very existence of particular objects can itself reveal a great deal about expectations for, and beliefs about, women. For example, the existence of decorated birth trays and other artistic objects associated with childbirth demonstrates the expectation for women to provide heirs and the belief in the power of visual stimuli to promote the conception of healthy and beautiful children. In addition, contemporary criticism of art made by Renaissance women evinces philosophical views that femininity is antithetical to artistic skill.

Scholars have also been varied in their approaches to interpreting Renaissance art. Some have used primarily objective methods, using primary sources and historical information to interpret the subjects of art works. Other have used concepts from psychology and the idea of the “male gaze” to develop nuanced interpretations of images. My synthesis of their work is an eclectic account of the lives of Renaissance women and their reflection in the world of Renaissance art.

Women in Renaissance Art


  1. aamitchell says:

    Elena, this was very interesting to read. I am always discussing how values of a culture are reflected through the popular music of the time, but I often forget that physical art is as important a medium as music to reflect such principles. Furthermore, as a feminist, I think it’s very important to understand the societal expectations of women in the past so that we can more appropriately adjust our societal expectations for women now and in the future. I am also curious to know why you picked the Renaissance to study! I have heard of others examining expectations like you did by looking at ads from the 1950’s through the present!
    Fantastic job, Elena!