Renaissance Europe was not a promising place for female artists to emerge. Women were expected to marry and have children, and those who did work were not welcomed into male-dominated professions. In fact women were unable to even receive formal art training (a cornerstone of which was the study of the nude).
But some did emerge. Privately taught, often by their fathers who were drafting them into the family business, and talented enough to gain commissions on merit alone, some women successfully made a living as artists.
Here are ten women painters who are recognized as being among the leading artists of their time. They date from the late Renaissance period (1500s) and from the Baroque era (1600s).