During the Renaissance, it was men who were considered the great and creative artists, that because only men were taught from childhood to believe they could be great, and then were given exclusive access to means to greatness.
2. Who were Sofonisba Anguissola, Lavinia Fontana, and Artemisia Gentileschi? What subjects did they paint?
Sofonisba Anguissola was one of the rare female stars of Renaissance art. Her talent -- "for a woman" -- was acknowledged in her day. One drawing by Sofonisba, famous in its day, shows a little boy in tears because an older girl has nipped him with the crayfish she is holding. Rather than fleeing such "nursery" imagery, Sofonisba claims it as especially her own.
Lavinia Fontana, a so-so painter whose artist father wasn't any better, once did a portrait of a bearded woman, one of the best-known "freaks" of the Renaissance world. By virtue of being painted by a woman, the picture comes to be about the very thing its painter was absolutely not allowed to be -- either ugly or mannish -- and thus carries meaning and power that it wouldn't have if painted by a man. It also, perhaps, implies the special sympathy that the female painter, made a social freak by the needs and ambitions of her family, could feel for a woman born into physical freakishness.
Artemisia Gentileschi painted a lovely little picture of the classical heroine Danae, naked in bed while being "ravished" by a shower of gold coins. (They're Zeus, in a pricey disguise.) The extra dose of realism in the figure's torso -- details of the folds of skin where breast meets underarm, a tender mound of flesh where breast rests on ribs --