By or after George Gower, Portrait of Queen Elizabeth I (detail), ca. 1588. Oil on canvas. Private collection, Courtesy of Leicester Galleries, London
Women Who Ruled Queens, Goddesses, Amazons 1500 – 1650
Sep 19 - Dec 8, 2002

The exhibition focuses on the visual depiction of powerful women in the sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries in Europe, an exceptional period of history filled with an unusual number of states and kingdoms led by women.

This important international loan exhibition displays an arresting array of female rulers as depicted in Renaissance and Baroque paintings, prints, drawings, sculpture and decorative arts that reveal much about the context in which they were created. Looking at these representations from the vantage point of women’s societal roles at the time, the exhibition explores the visual strategies used to convey female power and to communicate a point of view toward it—ranging from anxiety to endorsement, and often expressing ambivalence.

“Women who live in the public eye,” noted exhibition organizer Annette Dixon of the University of Michigan Museum of Art, “have always prompted mixed reactions; controversial women of today were preceded centuries ago by women who struggled against confining ideas about their place in society.”

This exhibition is organized and circulated by the University of Michigan Museum of Art and includes approximately eighty works of art drawn from the University of Michigan Museum of Art as well as major European, Canadian and American collections, both public and private.