The Mirror and the Palette

The Mirror and the Palette

by

, 2021-reads, 2021-reads, Art, Nonfiction, History, Feminism, Biography, Womens, Adult

Her story weaves in and out of time and place. She’s Frida Kahlo, Loïs Mailou Jones and Amrita Sher-Gil en route to Mexico City, Paris or Bombay. She’s Suzanne Valadon and Gwen John, craving city lights, the sea and solitude; she’s Artemisia Gentileschi striding through the streets of Naples and Paula Modersohn-Becker in Worpswede. She’s haunting museums in her paint-stained dress, scrutinising how El Greco or Titian or Van Dyck or Cézanne solved the problems that she too is facing. She’s railing against her corsets, her chaperones, her husband and her brothers; she’s hammering on doors, dreaming in her bedroom, working day and night in her studio. Despite the immense hurdles that have been placed in her way, she sits at her easel, picks up a mirror and paints a self-portrait because, as a subject, she is always available.

Until the twentieth century, art history was, in the main, written by white men who tended to write about other white men. The idea that women in the West have always made art was rarely cited as a possibility. Yet they have – and, of course, continue to do so – often against tremendous odds, from laws and religion to the pressures of family and public disapproval.

In THE MIRROR AND THE PALETTE, Jennifer Higgie introduces us to a cross-section of women artists who embody the fact that there is more than one way to understand our planet, more than one way to live in it and more than one way to make art about it. Spanning 500 years, biography and cultural history intertwine in a narrative packed with tales of rebellion, adventure, revolution, travel and tragedy enacted by women who turned their back on convention and lived lives of great resilience, creativity and bravery. This is a dazzlingly original and ambitious book by one of the most well-respected art critics at work today.

Title:The Mirror and the Palette
Edition Language:English
ISBN:9781474613804
Format Type:

    The Mirror and the Palette Reviews

  • Genevieve

    I have learnt a LOT from this book.While I don't always want to know about the lives of the artists, and initially I worried I might find the tone a bit grating, the stories in here are really quite f...

  • Adele

    This is very well written and researched. I really enjoyed reading these stories and exploring the artists highlighted in more depth.It is of limited scope and would benefit the text to acknowledge th...

  • Giovanna Walker

    Lockdown read. Really enjoyed the stories, and appreciated the research into the various painters. Their challenges across time, some challenges remain the same across time. The limitations, restricti...

  • Moira

    Informative read - I got the most out of the parts focused on pre-20th century, I think I needed more context for later artists. May have benefited by defining a more limited scope (time/geographic re...

  • Cynthia Close

    An intimate look at the lives of extraordinary women who, regardless of the circumstances - the time and place of their birth - were driven by an artistic impulse to paint. They all achieved recogniti...

  • Nathalie Maciesza

    Er wordt nog te vaak gedacht dat er geen of weinig geweldige vrouwelijke kunstenaars waren in het verleden; vrouwelijke tegenhangers van Caravaggio of Frans Hals. In dit boek verzamelt kunstcriticus J...

  • Maren

    So many amazing things about this book. It was a great insight to so many different lives. I found it difficult to read at times as I wasn’t sure what each story’s main focus was. It would have be...

  • Ann Otto

    Higgie provides information of little-known women artists over five hundred years of history through their self-portraits. We learn about the importance of the invention of the mirror, and the many ob...

  • Nikki

    A fantastic dive into woman artists, some of which I've heard of and others I hadn't. I enjoyed the depth of each story but definitely found some parts draining. I found myself speed reading through s...

  • Rachel Keir-Smith

    I loved this book but was really disappointed at no mention of Indigenous women in NZ and Australia. Those sections of the book seemed to express great sensitivity to First Nations art practice but no...