For much of the nineteenth century, women artists laboured under the same restrictions and taboos they had endured for centuries, and it was assumed that marriage and child-bearing were their goals in life. However, by the 1870s female art students of every nation were flocking to Paris in search of instruction in the city's private art schools. With proper training, they now had the confidence to tackle a wider range of subjects and by the century's end they were at last able to study the nude figure. During these breakthrough years, women won the right to work and exhibit alongside men, both in Europe and America, and the advent of art galleries and art dealers opened up new ways of selling their work. This book is full of surprising adventures: young women, still not allowed to visit a museum unchaperoned, travelled thousands of miles in a quest for first-class tuition; several Americans, while still in their twenties, journeyed to Rome to study sculpture; numerous free and independent women joined the artists' colonies that sprang up all over Europe, where they made lasting friendships, painting from dawn to dusk en plein air and enjoying the bohemian life. These trailblazing women rose to the challenges of the century's dramatic development in art styles – from Realism to the Avant-Garde – and triumphantly succeeded in becoming successful professional artists.
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