Renaissance is the first time in history when women specific art works were recognized. It is during this period that women had the opportunity to compete freely with men for the market place for their products. Women artist from this period were never presented together nor framed within their social and historical contexts. The role of women during the renaissance period was controlled by society expectations of the women. The expectation of women was to perform only domestic work greatly influenced by men through persuasion.
The success of women artist during the renaissance period is attributed to inspiration that they got from Sofonisba Anguissola, who came from an influential noble family with a strong painting background. She attended an apprenticeship with other local painter thereby setting a pace for other women. She inspired art schools to accept women students. During the renaissance period, there were stories that the there were independent women who were not influenced by the men. Real women artists were included in these stories. This lead to the women being educated since popular social work stated that both men and women had equal chances. This made it possible for women to engage in musical, social arts and literary arts (Pollock, 1988).
Many women during this period depicted themselves in self-portraits as musicians and scholars. This contributed to their success as it highlighted their well-rounded education. They did not depict themselves in these portraits as just painters. With the evolution of humanism, there was a shift from being ancient artisans to being artists (Aberjhani, 2003). The difference between craftsmen and artists is that they were illiterate. Artists are educated in mathematics, ancient art and the human body.
The successful women artist form this era were women form a small subset of the society whose status gave them freedom to become artists. They often belonged to two main classes of people; wealthy aristocratic women or they were nuns. The women who were nuns majored in embroidery and textiles. Aristocratic women often produced illuminations.
The rise of women in this era is attributed to the cultural shifts. During this period, women started getting international recognition. One of these shifts is the shift towards humanism. This philosophy recognizes the dignity of all people. It came central to the Renaissance thinking assisted a great deal in raising the status of women in society (Fineberg, 1995). During this period, the identity of significant artists were greatly recognized, therefore, the success of the first female artists contributed a lot to the success of the other upcoming female artists. Most women in this era were innovative to compensate for their lack of education (Georgia Museum of Art, 1996). Some of the painters received training under the watchful eyes of their parents. Some artists such as Lavinia who came from a controversial peculiar family since her husband supported her in her work. She is as a controversial painter since she was able to paint nude men and women, which was considered to be against the culture. She was unusual since she was commission to paint religious paintings.
To sum up all the conditions that favoured women included, cultural changes, persistence of women and inspirations that they got from the preceding artists who posed as role models.