Reading List: Women's History Month

Since 1987, March has been recognized nationally as Women’s History Month. In honor of the innumerable, yet often underappreciated, women artists, collectors, and art historians, we are highlighting some of the Frick Art Reference Library’s remotely accessible e-books that feature their work and invaluable contributions to the fields of art and art history.

All of the following titles can be accessed through the library’s online catalog, thanks to our program with Open Library. Peruse these e-books by creating a free Internet Archive account.

  1. Chrysalis: Maria Sibylla Merian and the Secrets of Metamorphosis

    By Kim Todd (2007)

    Artist and naturalist Maria Sibylla Merian (1647−1717) gained notoriety through her works illustrating the life cycles of moths and butterflies. Amazingly ahead of her time, Merian significantly predates John James Audubon (1785−1851) in her close observation of plants and insects, revealing nature’s wonders through her detailed visual renderings.

Maria Sibylla Merian (German, 1647–1717), Blue Morning-Glory, with Moth, Caterpillar and Larva. Watercolor. Photo reproduction: Frick Art Reference Library Photoarchive
  1. Art on Fire: The Politics of Race and Sex in the Paintings of Faith Ringgold

    By Lisa E. Farrington (1999)

    Explore the work of prolific artist Faith Ringgold (born 1930) through this captivating monograph. Renowned for taking a traditionally female craft, quilting, into the realm of fine art, Ringgold has imbued her work with political meaning informed by personal experiences since the beginning of her career. Art on Fire brings to light prominent themes that inspired Ringgold’s formative years as an artist and that continue to be interwoven throughout her work in multiple media.

  2. Women Artists in History: From Antiquity to the Present

    By Wendy Slatkin (2001)

    Art historian Wendy Slatkin surveys women artists throughout history in this classic and concise publication. Slatkin’s approach reveals the interconnected roles of women artists with those of women patrons and collectors, as well as the shifts in the depiction of women in art over time. Organized chronologically and geographically, this book invites readers to travel the globe virtually through art from antiquity to the beginning of the twenty-first century.

  3. Cecilia Beaux: American Figure Painter (2007)

    Artist William Merritt Chase said of Cecilia Beaux (1855−1942) that she was “not only the greatest living woman painter, but the best that has ever lived.” Discover her Impressionist paintings in this catalog from a 2007 exhibition at the High Museum of Art, which chronicles her life and work over forty years.

Cecilia Beaux (American, 1855–1942), Self-Portrait, ca. 1889–94. Oil on canvas, 17 7/8 x 13 7/8 in. (45.4 x 35.2 cm). National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution
  1. The Photomontages of Hannah Höch (1996)

    Browse through this fascinating catalog that accompanied a touring exhibition on Berlin Dadaist Hannah Höch (1889−1978) held at the Walker Art Center, The Museum of Modern Art, and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Pioneering a new style of collages using mass-produced photographs and print media, Höch repurposed visual culture to subversively question gender roles, political authority, and modernism.

  2. The Fair Women

    By Jeanne Madeline Weimann (1981)

    Learn about the Women’s Building at the Chicago World’s Columbian Exposition of 1893, which featured inventions, works of art, and over 7,000 books in a concerted effort to highlight the often-overlooked cultural contributions of women. The project was conceptualized and realized entirely by women, from the architectural design of the Women’s Building by Sophia Hayden (1868−1953) to the interior design of the exhibition space.

  3. The Memoirs of Catherine the Great

    Translated by Mark Cruse and Hilde Hoogenboom (2005)

    Delve into a firsthand account of the remarkable, and sometimes scandalous, life of the longest-reigning empress of Russia, Catherine II (1729–1796), who ruled from 1762 to 1796. Her patronage of the arts reflected her support of Enlightenment ideals and revitalized her country, while her personal art collection is commemorated as the foundation of the Hermitage Museum in Saint Petersburg.

Side-by-side image of both sides a portrait medal depicting Catherine the Great of Russia on the obverse and a plinth with a woman's head, an artist's palette, and a column capital on the reverse
Johann Georg Waechter (German, 1724–1800) and Pierre Louis Vernier (French, act. 18th century), Catherine II of Russia, 1765. Struck silver, diam. 2 1/16 in. (5.24 cm). The Frick Collection, New York; gift of Stephen K. and Janie Woo Scher, 2016
  1. Carr, O’Keeffe, Kahlo: Places of Their Own

    By Sharyn Rohlfsen Udall (2000)

    Compare how three modern artists, Emily Carr (1871−1945), Georgia O’Keeffe (1887−1986), and Frida Kahlo (1907−1954), each related to the landscapes of their respective homes in Canada, the United States, and Mexico in this publication by Sharyn Rohlfsen Udall. The unifying motif of the landscape serves as a lens through which Udall analyzes deeper connections between the artists, place, and identity.

  2. Clear Skies All Week

    By Alison Knowles (2011)

    This unconventional artist’s book was created by Alison Knowles (born 1933), one of the founders of Fluxus. Exemplative of the multidisciplinary, experimental movement, this publication is comprised of phrases that have been randomized and reorganized in a computer-generated text that reads as a repetitive yet poetic work merging art with technology.

  3. Illustrated Catalogue of the Rita Lydig Collection (1913)

    Flip through this Gilded Age catalog documenting the collection of New York City socialite Rita de Acosta Lydig (1875−1929), “the most picturesque woman in America.” Lydig’s collection overlaps with that of the Frick’s in her selection of European paintings and sculptures, including works by Tintoretto, El Greco, and Malvina Cornell Hoffman (1887−1966), who created portrait busts of both her and Henry and Helen Clay Frick.

Special thanks to Karly Wildenhaus, Metadata Lead, for her help in identifying subjects for this post.

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