This course will examine the art and biographies of western women artists from the Rococo through Impressionist eras. In the early and mid-1700s, the aristocratic women of Paris enjoyed greater freedom as well as more economic and political power than in earlier periods. These high-ranking women championed female artists, as demonstrated by Marie Antoinette’s patronage of Vigée-Lebrun. More women achieved prominence in the arts than had previously been possible. But by the end of the century, public opinion turned against the aristocracy. Enlightenment philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau argued for family values and declared “the natural sphere of women was the private sphere”, the home. The backlash against women in the public realm that followed the French Revolution resulted in a dearth of professional women artists in the early 1800s. The success of Rosa Bonheur, the first woman to specialize in animal paintings, marked another shift. By the end of the 1800s, there were several notable women artists, most significantly the Impressionist painters, Berthe Morisot and Mary Cassatt.