The DIA’s ‘By Her Hand’ Exhibition Celebrates Italian Women Artists

The exhibit is on display from Feb. 6 through May 29
By Her Hand DIA Elisabetta Sirani
Elisabetta Sirani, “Virgin and Child,” 1663; Oil on canvas, 34 x 27 1/2 in. // Photograph by Lee Stalsworth, courtesy of the Detroit Institute of Arts

On Feb. 6, the Detroit Institute of Arts debuts its latest exhibit, By Her Hand: Artemisia Gentileschi and Women Artists in Italy, 1500-1800. Featuring nearly 60 works, the exhibition explores how Italian women artists from the Renaissance and Baroque eras succeeded during a time when their field was dominated by men.

Running through May 29, By Her Hand includes the work of Artemisia Gentileschi, a master of Baroque painting who paved the way for other women artists. It also highlights her contemporaries, such as court artist Sofonisba Anguissola, Bolognese painter and printmaker Elisabetta Sirani, and Italian miniaturist Giovanna Garzoni.

In total, visitors can view the work of 17 different women. Among the pieces on display are self-portraits, still-life paintings, and scenes that depict female bravery.

By Her Hand Artemisia Gentileschi
Artemisia Gentileschi (Italian, 1593–1654 or later), “Self-Portrait as a Lute Player,” 1615–1617, Oil on canvas. // Image courtesy of the Detroit Institute of Arts

“This is a rare and exciting opportunity for audiences in Detroit to view firsthand artworks by so many gifted Italian women artists. It is interesting to consider the ways in which their experiences are parallel to or differ from women artists today,” says Eve Straussman-Pflanzer, exhibition co-curator and former Head of European Art Department & Elizabeth and Allan Shelden Curator of European Paintings at the DIA and the current Curator of Italian and Spanish Paintings at the National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C., in a press release.

Tickets to the exhibition, which are $8-$18 and free for DIA members, include a self-led tour complete with audio, images, video, and interactive storytelling. Visitors will need to have their own smartphone and headphones to access the tour.

Exhibit programming includes a documentary film series called On Visionary Women and a playlist on the DIA’s Soundcloud and Spotify pages. An exhibition catalogue will also be available in the museum’s shop.

All DIA guests must wear masks, regardless of their vaccination status. Those interested in visiting the museum should schedule a time online in advance.

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