As part of Women’s History Month, we’re offering a week of #5WomenArtists, inspired by the National Museum of Women in the Arts. We asked some women of Swann to tell us about their five favorite female artists.
Cosway was an accomplished painter and composer in her own right, despite the initial suppression by her husband, the famous eighteenth-century painter of portrait miniatures, Richard Cosway. The Italian-English artist not only commissioned the first portrait of Napoleon, but produced an impressive body of work, most of which is held in the Royal Academy. She possessed an abundance of charms such that Thomas Jefferson was smitten by her (the two had a brief romantic affair), and kept her friendship until his death.
Painting animals without anthropomorphic emotion is a challenge, but Lathrop was attuned to their natures and represented them with a sensitivity and love of the creature world that translated to the page. Highly skilled and proficient, she mastered all mediums and left a breathtakingly large body of work. She holds the honor of having earned the inaugural Caldecott Medal (awarded for most distinguished American picture book for children) in 1938.
This intrepid Hungarian was a true Renaissance woman with a staggering creative legacy. Karasz immigrated to America in 1913 when she was 17 years old and took the Greenwich Village art scene by storm, co-founding the European-American artists’ collective, The Society of Modern Art and Design School. She produced book illustration, typography, posters, theatrical art, furniture and silverware, pioneered techniques of wallpaper and textile design and made a mark in interior design by creating the first modern children’s nursery. If that weren’t enough, she painted 186 covers for The New Yorker magazine, marking her as one of their most prolific artists.
Ilonka Karasz, The Hunt, tempera on board, cover illustration for The New Yorker, 1963. Sold March 21, 2017 for $4,250.
A master of British wood engraving and illustration who produced one of the most beautiful and celebrated editions of The Fables of Esope, published 1931 by The Gregynog Press, one the great twentiethth-century fine press publishers, begun in 1922 by the sisters Gwendoline and Margaret Davies, in rural mid-Wales. Parker’s sense of composition, shading and detail, which incorporated the abstract principles of Cubism and Vorticism, were simply exquisite.
A special note of admiration goes out to my late friend, the brilliant graphic designer, artist, and rare book dealer, Elaine Lustig Cohen. She was a woman who championed the artistic output of the European avant-garde and blended their modernist aesthetics with a distinctly American idiom in her own design work throughout her long career spanning the 1940s to her death in 2016.