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Self-portrait of artist Angelica Kauffman
Self-portrait of artist Angelica Kauffman

Printing Women: Three Centuries of Female Printmakers, 1570–1900

Physically demanding and technically challenging, printmaking has often been considered man’s labor. As the Library’s unusual collection by forward-thinking Henrietta Louisa Koenen (1830-1881) demonstrates, engravings, etchings, woodcuts and lithographs executed by female printmakers have been around almost as long as artists started creating prints in the late fifteenth century. From 1848 until 1861, she collected an astonishing array of sheets by women artists from the sixteenth to nineteenth centuries. Executed by experts and amateurs alike, these women pursued their craft as part of larger family workshops, as a means of self-realization and for the thrill of making and sharing pictures created in multiples.

Exhibited for the first time since 1901, the works from Henrietta Louisa Koenen’s collection include not only well-known artists like Angelica Kauffmann (1741-1807) and Maria Cosway (1760-1838), but also rare and unusual prints by the Marquise de Pompadour (1721-1764), Charlotte Napoleon (1802-1839), and Queen Victoria (1819-1901).


October 2nd, 2015 - May 27th, 2016 Stephen A. Schwarzman Building

From the Exhibition

Nouvelle Suite de Cahiers de Desseins Chinois, numéro 2

Anne Allen (French, active 1760s) after Jean Baptiste Pillement (French, 1728–1789). Color etchings, 18th century. Artist Jean Baptiste Pillement employed a number of printmakers to disseminate his designs. It was Anne Allen, however, who most captivated the artist and became his primary printmaker. These etchings, printed à la poupée, are an instance of the French Rococo appreciation for whimsy and artifice, are are also influenced by Chinese (Chinois) woodblock prints.

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Featured Blog Post

The Natural History of Early Modern Needlework

From the sixteenth century on, men -- rather than women -- developed pattern books on which women based their needlepoint work. This blog explores the works of two late sixteenth and seventeenth-century women, Isabella Parasole and Maria Sibylla Merian, who overthrew these conventions, first by creating textile patterns for women and then by branching out into the study of natural history, a field that was dominated by male explorers and discoverers.

Contemporary Female Printmakers

Printing Women: Ambreen Butt

Please click the image to view Ambreen Butt's blog about '(Untitled) Dragon Woman' and the importance of giving "a face to the female in the black veil." The exhibition, 'Printing Women' focuses on Henrietta Louisa Koenen’s (1830–1881) collection and signals women’s continuing participation in printmaking as well as the Library’s longstanding commitment to acquiring and exhibiting prints made by women from around the world.



This exhibition has been made possible by the continuing generosity of Miriam and Ira D. Wallach. Support for The New York Public Library’s Exhibitions Program has been provided by Celeste Bartos, Sue and Edgar Wachenheim III, Mahnaz Ispahani Bartos and Adam Bartos Exhibitions Fund, and Jonathan Altman