Portrait of an Unknown Lady (c.1650-5), by Joan Carlile. Image courtesy Tate Britain.

Portrait of an Unknown Lady (c.1650-5), by Joan Carlile. Image courtesy Tate Britain.

Joan Carlile is considered one of the first professional British female painters. Born in 1606, she copied the Italian masters, reproducing them in miniature. She was also a talented portrait painter, and worked as such. Though not many of her paintings have survived, her style is recognizable if you know what to look for.

The Tate Britain¬†the painting¬†Portrait of an Unknown Woman as part of their goal to increase awareness of female artists. Both the previous owners and the auction house assumed a man had painted it. However, art historian¬†Bendor Grosvenor was able to identify the style as Carlile’s.

Though women have long¬†worked in male-dominated careers, their contributions are often‚Äìlike Joan Carlile‚Äìdismissed as inferior, or attributed to men. That is less of an issue today, though women still struggle for equal recognition in many fields. Of¬†the four candidates shortlisted for the 2016 Turner Prize, three are women. Since it’s inception in 1984, most years have had at least one female nominee (1997’s shortlist was¬†all women).

Banner for Gazed and Confused featuring girl with umbrella

Gazed and Confused, our newest exhibition, showcases contemporary female artists and their own interpretations of girlhood. In their work, these young women explore the confusing experience of growing up as girls. By acknowledging their work now, we hope they will not be forgotten, dismissed, or appropriated in the future.

-Katie Weidmann
Social Media Manager
Girl Museum Inc.

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