Electronic Theses and Dissertations





Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Fine Arts


Art History


General Art History

Committee Chair

Rebecca Maria Howard

Committee Member

Lucienne Auz

Committee Member

William Carlisle McKeown


This thesis aims to understand protofeminism in early modern European art by examining the lives and works of three women artists: Levina Teerlinc (1520-1576), Sofonisba Anguissola (c.1532-c.1625), and Artemisia Gentileschi (1593-c.1652/53). This study proposes that protofeminism existed in early modernity and that it can be understood as a form of feminism before the term was defined in the twentieth century. Like contemporary feminist art, early modern protofeminism intended to highlight the inequities women faced in society based on their gender, specifically women employed as artists. Each thesis chapter dedicated to the three aformentioned artists includes biographical information, visual and contextual analyses of several paintings made at various moments in their careers, and a conclusion of evidence of protofeminist intent. This intent is supported by studies of their personal lives and works, as well as more modern definitions of feminist art. Based on the dates of creation, iconography within the paintings, and historical background of each woman, it is argued that they each intentionally created work meant to emphasize a version of protofeminism that highlighted the discrepancies between male and female artists during the early modern period.


Data is provided by the student.

Library Comment

Dissertation or thesis originally submitted to the local University of Memphis Electronic Theses & dissertation (ETD) Repository.