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Medieval Women Artists

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Medieval Women Artists could only work in monasteries as it was customary also for men by the way.

They were probably more frequently to be seen with art (and sciences) during medieval time than in later, more "modern" centuries, this is what I assume after reading more abouth the Middle Ages

Blancandrins fut des plus saives paiens:
De vasselage fut asez chevaler,
Prozdom i out pur sun seignur aider;
E dist al rei: «Ore ne vus esmaiez!
Mandez Carlun a l'orguillus, (e) al fier,
Fedeilz servises e mult granz amistez.

Vos li durrez urs e leons e chens,
Set cenz camelz e mil hosturs muers,
D'or e d'argent .IIII.C. muls cargez,
Cinquante carre, qu'en ferat carier:
Ben en purrat luer ses soldeiers.

(La Chanson de Roland, ca 1090)


medieval women hunting
Medieval Women Hunting

medieval women teaching geometry
Medieval woman teaching geometry, 1308-1315, paris; British Library.The woman is "...using a compass to measure distances on a diagram. In her hand she hold a square, an implement for testing or drawing right angles. She is watched by a group of students. In the Middle Ages, it is unusual to see women represented as teachers" (wiki)

medieval women playing music
(Miniature) Queen with four attendant maidens playing musical instruments, early 15th century. From a book of Boccaccio, "De claris mulieribus", at the British Library; Record Number - 2960; Shelfmark - Royal 16 G. V; Page Folio Number - f.3v.
Here we are already in the "low" Middle Ages, when Universities had already started and Europe's population was growing. In about 100 years, Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo would be in full activity...



Let's go back to the women in art. There were also women in art quoted by Plinius in the ist century, but the following are the first historical documents that I found which witness women artists.

Ende, X-XI Century, Spain

beatus manuscript

Ende worked in the Gerona convent, Spain, on the Beatus Manuscript now in New York and part of the Metropolitan Museum



Claricia Nun, XII Century, Germany

First "self-portrait" of a woman artist in history. Move the mouse over the picture

Claricia Nun, first "self-portrait" of a woman artist in History. Claricia was working in the conventum scriptorium Bavaria in Germany in the XII century. She was not a nun.

Guda Nun, XII century, Germany

guda nun sel-portrait
Another self-portarit, this time a little clearer and with the name of the artist around the head. Germany.


Ildegard von Bingen (1098-1179), Germany


medieval woman artist Hildegard von Bingen
This famous and influential medieval saint and intellectual also copied some manuscripts and painted her mystic vision herself.Hildegard von Bingen, Germany. Liber Divinorum Operum
Hildegard von Bingen and one of her visions.


The Middle-Ages are seen as a dark-age unjustly. Yes, the fall of Rome (476 AD) and the subsequent disintegration of the Roman Empire caused a lot of troubles. Just imagine if you had to live in constant danger of being aggressed and killed by foreign invasors. The constant war situation created by the political instability caused the decadence in all aspects of life, arts included because there was no more security nor a highly and advancedly organized society anymore. Moreover, the raise of Islam which took advantage of the situation, blocked the whole Mediterranean through its piracy for 500 years, until the 13th century when slowly the Italian cities of Venice, Pisa, Genua and Amalfi took gradually the commercial routes again (no matter what people say TODAY about them, the crusades in the 11th century were the first answer to this situation). There were only two groups of educated people in Europe: the Jewish and some of the Church leaders. Society was rural and poor and illitterate and the only way to do something not related with farming or war was in a monastery...

Related pages

Middle Ages Art

Medieval Colours






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source: http://www.cultor.it/Pinacoteca/index.htm





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