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Muse or Maestra?
Women in the Italian Art World, 1400–1800

08.03.2023 to 04.06.2023

Featuring some 90 works, the special exhibition organised by Berlin’s Kupferstichkabinett elucidates the lives and impact of women such as Rosalba Carriera, Artemisia Gentileschi, Elisabetta Sirani, Diana Scultori, Isabella d’Este, Christina, Queen of Sweden, and others. Their works, fates and enormous influence on the art world of their times have in part been forgotten today.

During the Renaissance and Baroque periods, the art of these women outshone that of their fathers, brothers and husbands. They created and collected oeuvres that were sought after throughout Europe. They knew how to market themselves and how to network. The protagonists in the exhibition comprise not only women artists who created works in demand, but also wives who supported their husbands and posed for them as models and female patrons who gave commissions for artworks and supported women artists, as well as preservationists and collectors who kept and passed on the works.

Not only does the exhibition show the art of these women, it also provides details about the circumstances of their lives to the extent that this information is known. A number of issues are addressed. These include determining what influence being a woman had on these women’s roles in the art world, whether or not they married and became mothers, and which strategies they pursued to assert themselves in a man’s world, thus making it possible for us to still find traces of their respective impacts.

Women’s diverse, active roles in Italian art are presented with drawings and prints until 1800 from the Kupferstichkabinett’s vast collection, as well as some outstanding loans. In various interventions in the exhibition and catalogue, the youth advisory panel of the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Achtet AlisMB, contributes the younger generation’s perspective on this topic.


The exhibition Muse or Maestra?: Women in the Italian Art World, 1400–1800 is curated by Dagmar Korbacher, director of the Kupferstichkabinett.


A catalogue accompanies the exhibition.

A special exhibition of the Kupferstichkabinett – Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, in collaboration with Achtet AlisMB, the youth advisory panel of the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin.

Rosalba Carriera, self-portrait of the artist, detail, 1707/1708
© Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Kupferstichkabinett / Jörg P. Anders

10785 Berlin

wheelchair accessible

U-Bahn U2 (Potsdamer Platz)
S-Bahn S1, S2, S25 (Potsdamer Platz)
Bus M29 (Potsdamer Brücke); M41 (Potsdamer Platz Bhf / Voßstraße); M48, M85 (Kulturforum); 200 (Philharmonie)

Sun 11:00 - 18:00
Mon closed
Tue closed
Wed 10:00 - 17:00
Thu 10:00 - 17:00
Fri 10:00 - 17:00
Sat 11:00 - 18:00

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The special exhibition The Allure of Rome: Maarten van Heemskerck Draws the City can also be visited on Tuesdays (10 am to 6 pm).

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Katalogbeiträge zur Ausstellung von Achtet AlisMB, dem Jugendgremium der Staatlichen Museen zu Berlin