Women Artists of the Nineteenth Century

I want to thank everyone who responded to my inquiry on my blog and on Facebook. It is unfortunate there are no monographs on these women. In fairness to those who didn’t get the names to all of them correct, only a handful of these artists were known to me—the rest I found during my research into 19th Century women artists.

The images of the last post from top to bottom. Here are the names of the artists…

Marie Bashkirtseff 1860-1884 Ukrainian/ Russian, studied with Jules Lepage and Tony Robert Fleury

Louise Abbéma 1858-1927 French, studied with Carolus Duran


Eleanor Fortescue-Brickdale 1872 – 1945 English, studied with Herbert Bone at the Royal Academy

Juana Romani 1869-1924 Italian, studied with Jean Jacques Henner and Ferdinand Roybet in Paris


Maria Martinetti 1864-1921 Italian, studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in Rome with Gustavo Simoni


Marie Aimée Elaine Lucas-Robiquet 1858 – 1959 Normandy, studied with Félix-Joseph Barrias.


Sarah Stilwell Weber 1878-1939 American, studied with Howard Pyle

Anna Bilinska Bohdanowiczowa 1857-1893 Polish, studied with Rodolphe Julian

Marguerite Stuber Pearson 1898-1978 American, studied with Edmund Tarbell

Bettina Steinke 1913-1999

Armand Cabrera

Bettina Louise Steinke was born on June 25, 1913 in Biddeford, Maine to William “Jolly Bill” Steinke and Alice M. Staples. The Steinke family later moved to suburban New York City where her father hosted a popular children’s radio program, “Jolly Bill and Jane” on NBC Radio.

After high school, Steinke attended the Fawcett Art School in Newark, New Jersey and then Cooper Union in New York City. In 1933 and 1934 she won scholarships to the Phoenix Art Institute in New York City, which was operated by Lauros M. Phoenix.

Through the influence of her father, Steinke was able to land a job assisting him in creating a mural for the 10th anniversary of NBC Radio in 1937. In 1938, Steinke was commissioned to do charcoal portraits of conductors Arturo Toscanini, Ignace Paderewski and the 100 members of the NBC Symphony Orchestra. The portraits were included in a souvenir book with a 10,000 copy first printing. Both the Toscanini and Paderewski portraits are part of the permanent collection of the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D. C.

For the next ten years, Steinke worked as a portraitist and commercial illustrator. At the outbreak of World War II, Steinke, like many illustrators and artists, worked for the government. Employed by the United States War Department, Steinke created portraits of Generals Henry “Hap” Arnold, Douglas MacArthur and Admiral Chester Nimitz, to name a few.

In 1946, she married Don Blair, a professional photographer. Together they collaborated on her portraiture. She would sketch the client and Don would take reference photos at the sittings. Steinke’s finished portraits usually took her about a month to complete.

The couple moved to Oklahoma, then Taos, New Mexico and finally settled in Santa Fe.
Out west she became interested in painting Native Americans and produced some of her finest work as an artist of modern indigenous people.

In the 60’s, Steinke sold a portrait of Will Rogers to the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum’s permanent collection. This led to portrait commissions for the National Cowboy Hall of Fame. These portraits included Amanda Blake, Joel McCrea, and Barbara Stanwyck. In 1973, Steinke helped to found the National Academy of Western Art. The Academy awarded Steinke the Prix de West award in 1978 for her painting, Father and Daughter at the Crow Fair. In 1980, she won an Award of Merit, in 1984 a Gold Medal, and three Silver Medals in subsequent years.

In 1995, the National Cowboy Hall of Fame hosted a major retrospective of Steinke’s career and she was honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award. In 1996, Steinke was awarded the John Singer Sargent Award for Lifetime Achievement by the Society of Portrait Artists.

Bettina Steinke died July 11th 1999.


Bettina Portraying Life in ArtDonald Hedgpeth
Northland Press 1978

Bettina Steinke A retrospectiveM.J. Van Deventer
NCHF 1995

QuotesThe use and abuse of the photograph has opened up a field for the untalented who have never worked from life, and can’t draw a chair, to say nothing of a figure. If it stayed in its own field as craft it wouldn’t be too bad but unfortunately it is labeled as fine art and sold in hundreds of galleries as such.

If a woman has to think, “I’m a Woman Artist”, then she has no business being an artist.

I firmly believe, as an artist, that a mans work will speak for itself. If an artist can’t make a living in his profession, let him look unto himself and try not to live like a parasite on the hide of the public.

Kate Elizabeth Bunce

By Armand Cabrera


Kate Bunce was born in Birmingham England in 1856. She was the second of five daughters. Her mother was Rebecca Ann Cheesewright and her father was John Thackray Bunce the editor of the Birmingham Daily Post.  Kate attended the Birmingham school of art in the 1880 and 1890’s. During her years there she won a bronze medal for her work.
Her father’s standing provided for her financially and she did not need to marry. She pursued art and never left the family home. Kate showed her work at the Royal Birmingham Society of Artists and Royal Academy starting in 1887. A devote Anglican, she stopped producing work for galleries and focused on religious work for churches instead. Kate Bunce died in 1927 at the age of seventy one.
Women Artists of the Pre-Raphaelite Movement
Jan Marsh and Pamela Gerrish Nunn


Verago Press Limited 1989

Lady Elizabeth Butler (ne’e Thompson)

By Armand Cabrera
Elizabeth Thompson was born in Lausanne Switzerland in 1846. She was the oldest of two daughters of Thomas James Thompson and his second wife Christiana Weller. Her mother was an amateur artist and Elizabeth showed an interest in drawing at the age of five. The family spent their summers in the Italian Riviera and the children were home schooled. After formal studies in England the family returned to Italy where Elizabeth began study with Giuseppe Bellucci in Florence in 1869. By 1870 she was painting religious subjects and portraits of friends. She also sketched in pen and pencil and watercolor. Here sketches were mostly soldiers and men in battle.
In 1874 she submitted the painting Roll Call to the Royal Academy. The painting became a huge success for the young painter with critics and the public alike. Huge crowds gathered to see it and it was so popular the Academy sent it on tour. Multiple people bid to own it and the painting was eventually purchased by Queen Victoria. The Queen allowed engravings to be made of the image and prints were sold to the public.
Almost overnight Elizabeth became a much sought after artist. She continued to paint military subjects to great acclaim. Elizabeth made sure her paintings were as accurate as possible. Because of her fame and success many of the men who had taken place in the battles she depicted would pose for her paintings in their uniforms.
Her career changed the view of women painters and the idea of what military paintings should be about. John Ruskin who had proclaimed he thought no woman was capable of painting to a professional level publically recanted his statement after viewing Elizabeth’s work. Her paintings were not just action scenes of battles but focused on the human elements of suffering and bravery and the individuals taking part in the conflict.
In 1877 Elizabeth married Major William Butler. She had six children. Elizabeth traveled with her husband through Africa, the Middle East and Europe as he carried out his military service. After the Boer Wars (1880-81 and 1899-1902) the interest in military painting dwindled and though Elizabeth continued to paint, twentieth century taste turned away from realism to modernism.
Elizabeth Thompson Butler died in 1933 at the age of 87.
A Dictionary of European Genre Painting
Phillip Hook and Mark Poltimore
The Antique Collectors Club 1986
Lady Butler Battle Artist 1846-1933
Paul Usherwood and Jenny Spencer Smith
Sutton publishing LTD 1987
An Autobiography
By Elizabeth Butler
Constable & Co. LTD 1922

I never painted for the glory of war, but to portray its pathos and heroism.
~ Lady Elizabeth Butler