By Her Hand


September 30, 2021 – January 9, 2022

Women artists played a vibrant yet overlooked role in Italy around 1600. The first exhibition solely dedicated to Italian women artists at the Wadsworth, By Her Hand explores how important women artists succeeded in the male-dominated art world of the time. Artemisia Gentileschi (1593–after 1654), one of the most fascinating seventeenth-century Italian painters, takes center stage.

The Wadsworth’s Self-Portrait as a Lute Player is compared with a related painting from the National Gallery, London—a rare opportunity to see these paintings side by side. Gentileschi’s pioneering depictions of strong women, such as her Judith and Her Maidservant with the Head of Holofernes from the Detroit Institute of Arts, will also be on view.

Beyond Gentileschi, the accomplishments of a diverse and dynamic group—from the court painter Sofonisba Anguissola (1532–1625), to the Venetian pastel artist Rosalba Carriera (1673-1757), among other talented and virtually unknown Italian women artists—are introduced and celebrated.

This exhibition is a collaboration between the Wadsworth Atheneum and the Detroit Institute of Arts. By Her Hand: Artemisia Gentileschi and Women Artists in Italy, 1500–1800 will be on view at the Detroit Institute of Arts February 6 – May, 29 2022.

The exhibition is accompanied by a catalogue featuring essays by an international team of distinguished art historians. The generously illustrated volume surveys a sweeping range of early modern Italian women artists, exploring their practice and paths to success within the male-dominated art world of the period.


October 7 | By Her Hand: Artemisia Gentileschi and Women Artists in Italy, 1500-1800: The Exhibition and Its Making with Oliver Tostmann
October 28 | Nevertheless, She Persisted: Artemisia’s Adventures with Elizabeth Cropper
November 6 | Artemisia Gentileschi: Conservation Notes
November 7 | Connecticut Lyric Opera: La liberazione di Ruggiero by Francesca Caccina
November 14 | Sunday Serenades, By Her Hand: Women in Art and Music
November 21 | Gallery Music


By Her Hand | Through January 9
Wednesdays at 1pm
Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays at 12:30pm

Women Artists in Focus | Through January 9
Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays at 2:30pm


By Her Hand: Artemisia Gentileschi and Women Artists in Italy, 1500-1800 is generously supported by the Cheryl Chase and Stuart Bear Family Foundation, JPMorgan Chase & Co., the National Endowment for the Arts, The David T. Langrock Foundation, the Robert Lehman Foundation, the Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation, the Tavolozza Foundation, the Private Art Dealers Association, Linda Cheverton Wick and Walter Wick, the Samuel H. Kress Foundation, and the Dau Family Foundation.

Sustaining support for the Wadsworth Atheneum provided by the Greater Hartford Arts Council’s United Arts Campaign with support from the Department of Economic and Community Development, Connecticut Office of the Arts.  

Images from left: Sofonisba Anguissola, Portrait of the artist’s sister in the garb of a nun, 1551. Oil on canvas. Southampton City Art Gallery, Hampshire, UK / Bridgeman Images; Artemisia Gentileschi, Self-Portrait as a Lute Player, c.1615–18. Oil on canvas. Charles H. Schwartz Endowment Fund. Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art; Artemisia Gentileschi, Judith and Her Maidservant with the Head of Holofernes, c. 1623–25. Oil on canvas. Detroit Institute of Arts