Pride and Prejudice

Pride and Prejudice explores conditions and opportunities for female artists in France and Sweden in 1750–1860. Having been entirely dependent on the whim of men for their success, women slowly but surely carved a more professional role for themselves.

Images: Emma Ekwall, Maria Plagemann. Amalia Lindegren, Study of a female model. Elisabeth Louise Vigée-Lebrun, Portrait of a Young Lady as Flora.

Sophie Adlersparre, Self portrait, The Royal Swedish Academy of Fine Arts, Stockholm. Amalia Lindegren, Study of a female model, Nationalmuseum. Antoine Cécile Hortense Haudebourt-Lescot, Self portrait, Musée du Louvre, Département des peintures, Paris.


27 September 2012–20 January 2013

In both Sweden and France, the art establishment of the mid-18th century was synonymous with the Royal Academies. Whoever was taken under the wing of the academies gained access to training and the opportunity to exhibit. At least if they were a man.

Women had no access to the state-run artistic education offered by the Royal Academies either in Sweden or in France. In Sweden, Ulrica Fredrica Pasch became the first female academician in 1773. In France, women became members of the Royal Academy in the 1600s, but there was considerable resistance to their inclusion. In fact, during its 130-year history it only ever had 10 female members. Those who did manage to be accepted into the Royal Academy were artistically talented and driven, but critical to them all were family ties or close social relations with men in leading positions within the art establishment.

The French Revolution brought about major social change, and yet women still did not have access to state-run art courses. In France, as in Sweden, they were directed to take up private tuition with a – usually male – artist. For women in the upper echelons of society, art tuition was a matter of course. Being able to draw, paint and embroider was seen as a sign of culture and refinement. Many became extremely adept and in Sweden these amateurs even got to exhibit at the Royal Academy.

As times changed, so did the artistic elite and the art market, leading not least to a democratisation of portraiture. This favoured women, who specialised in particular in miniature and pastel painting. Several also specialised in genre painting, which allowed them to make a living from their art.

One of the artists presented in the exhibition is Marie Suzanne Giroust. Many will know her better as The Lady with the Veil, in a portrait by her husband and Royal Academy member Alexander Roslin. She was accepted into the French Royal Academy of Painting and Sculpture thanks to her skill, but her husband’s position was no doubt a contributing factor. Marie Suzanne Giroust died young and now only 19 of her paintings are known to exist. Here we can see six of them.

The exhibition introduces us to Royal Academy members and amateurs, as well as talented entrepreneurs. A total of 250 paintings, drawings and embroidered pieces are on display, including works by Marie Suzanne Giroust, Anne Vallayer-Coster, Élisabeth Louise Vigée-Lebrun, Adélaïde Labille-Guiard, Marie Thérèse Reboul, Antoinette Cécile Hortense Haudebourt-Lescot, Marguerite Gérard, Ulrica Fredrica Pasch, Maria Röhl, Sophie Adlersparre and Amalia Lindegren.

Introduction and guided tours

(In Swedish unless otherwise stated)

  • A film with english subtitles introducing the exhibition will be shown in the Auditorium at all times exept during the introductions mentioned below.
  • Introduction in the Auditorium at 1 pm every Tuesday – Friday. Thursdays at 6 pm in October

Please notice, that some days the Auditorium is hired and therefore closed to the public. These days the film is not on show. Instead you can see it on the web site.

Click here to check out dates.

Theme day

Sunday 14 October, 1 pm – 3 pm
(Program will be announced later in September.)


Thursday 17 January, 6 pm

Royalists and Revolutionaries: Women Artists and the French Revolution, lecture by Laura Auricchio, Associate Professor of Art History, Parsons The New School for Design. In English.


Photography and filming are not permitted in the exhibition.


Art Library and Museum Archives,
Holmamiralens väg 2,
Skeppsholmen, Stockholm 

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