The 18th century, called the Enlightenment Era, brought about many social and cultural changes and developments. This century is also a period in which the modern system of fine arts emerged and, unlike the previous century, many cultural institutions appeared and began to rise in history. This century, which is very important for art and art institutions, points to a period in which not only the aristocracy but also the developing middle class wanted to connect with art. In addition to all these features, the Enlightenment in Europe has made great efforts to define female identity. For this process, it is possible to say that women, who started to appear in the “public sphere” theorized by Habermas, started to assume roles in the production of ideas, knowledge, and art. However, in the Age of Reason, the visibility of female artists is challenging, because, under the circumstances, women's opportunities to engage in art are more likely to fall into the rights of men. In fact, among the roles and rights of women defined by strict social conventions, artistry stands in a very controversial place. Following the footsteps of female artists, this paper follows an analytical and biographical approach in terms of methodology. Considering the conditions such as social structure, cultural environment and political atmosphere of the period, this study summarizes the position of art and artist and then sheds light on the conditions and efforts of women artists to gain visibility in the art world. For this reason, the cornerstones and obstacles that the female artist encounters on her way to exist as an artist in this period, in general, were the basis of the text. Furthermore, the artistic productions, working conditions and relations with the patronage system of the professional female artists who left their mark on the period were examined by considering social factors. Therefore, in this study the main discussion encounters the efforts of female artists to step into professionalism, entering into Louvre and gaining success in Salon exhibitions, being members of academies and the dilemmas they face during this process. All these issues are stated considering the current position of the art market and the gender model of the period.
Enlightenment, Louvre, Salon Exhibitions, Women Artists, Gender