WOMEN ON THE ROAD TO ART. THE ARTISTIC EDUCATION OF WOMEN IN 19TH-CENTURY BOHEMIA
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The problems surrounding the creative fulfilment of women in art may be traced continuously in Bohemia beginning in the first half of the 19th century. One basic theme treated in this essay revolves around artistic education, which was significant in forming the character of and disseminating women's art. The text describes the different forms and levels of artistic training which were progressively provided for women and girls, with emphasis on the period before the 1880s, which has received little attention to date from the standpoint of women's artistic activities as such. The roads women took then to acquire artistic skills were manifold and connected with the need to cope with the restricting factors of the age. Attention is devoted to the role of family artistic traditions as the main source of professional artistic activity for women in the first half of the century. Aspects of the artistic education of noble women - whose artistic activities constitute a considerable portion of women's art as a whole - are noted. Then, chiefly within the framework of the second half of the 19th century, the origins and development of group and public artistic schooling for women are contemplated, with attention paid to the significant role played during those early days by the well-known drawing school of Amalie Manes. Subsequently, the text documents the manners in which large-scale education for women in art and in arts and crafts was carried out in the 1860s and 1870s, already laying important groundwork for the activities of the Academy of Arts, Architecture and Design. The pioneering art education at the Women's Society of St Ludmila (Spolek pani sv. Ludmily), an industrial school for women, beginning in 1865 deserves special attention, as do the kindred activities carried out (though more intensively) at the Women's Production Society (Zensky vyrobni spolek), a commercial and industrial school from 1871 onward. The essay takes on the task of surveying the dawn of women's artistic education in Bohemia, outlining its basic features and drawing attention to notable aspects of the subject within the framework of the history of women's artistic activities.
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