The interest of scientists and historians in women’s Renaissance is still growing as there are different ideas and attitudes towards life of women in that historical period. Did women have their Renaissance? Some had, whereas others didn’t. However, Renaissance has played important role in formation women’s personality and identity. Renaissance was the first step on the long road to women’s freedom and equality.
The topic has been chosen as oppression of women and domination of men was a primary matter of concern in fiction literature, as well as in social and political tractates. Women were often oppressed and subordinated and, therefore, had fewer opportunities for their Renaissance. Before speaking about the impact of Renaissance on women history it is necessary to describe what role were imposed on women in society. (Zwanger, 1997)
Actually, women in Renaissance can be classified as traditional women who performed the imposed role and exceptional women who tended to show their personality and express their identity through art and literature. Generally, women were considered merely bearers of children and housekeepers. Therefore, they were inferior to men and customs kept them away from social life. Women’s tasks were routine and only wealthy women were allowed to escape from making clothing and administrating food production.
Since 13th century women were prohibited to take control over food suppliers as it was considered full males role. Renaissance women were active only in spinning wool and carding as it was considered female tasks. Wives were forbidden to participate in business as they had to keep their houses. Actually, Renaissance was the world of men and the world for men. Historians claim that women had more opportunities and jobs during the Middle Ages rather than during Renaissance. The reason is that capitalism led to more efficient production and women’s economic significance was reduced. More women remained unemployed and they were paid less for the same jobs. (Zwanger, 1997)
Nevertheless, there were moments in Renaissance history of women which impacted the future formation of women as personalities with equal rights and opportunities. In particular, some women tended to express their identity in art and literature making other women re-thing their social status and job opportunities. Such exceptional women were among the first to speak about women rights, their participation in business, social life, etc. with time women gained more freedom and were provided with more opportunities to express themselves. (Zwanger, 1997)
During Renaissance art was a powerful method to control women as it constructed a myriad of social pressures offering rich material for study female role. Economic restrictions and less opportunities prevented many women to devote their life to arts. Documented Renaissance artists were either children of noblemen or daughters of artists and they were expected to have literary and music skills. Despite they were talented, their careers finished after marriage.
However, they try to make art equal for men and women. Some women were active artistic patrons who arranged agreements with artists. For example, one of the noblewomen, Isabella d’Este commissioned significant amount of art having decorated her private studios. Mostly, pictures represented traditional women virtues as chastity, moral purity and fidelity. Furthermore, some women used art to strengthen their power. For example, Eleonora of Toledo was married to Cosimo I de’Medici and she used her portrait with the son to strengthen her political power in Tuscany. (Zwanger, 1997)
In conclusion it is necessary to outline that the primary impact of Renaissance women on their future was the fact that through art they tended to strengthen their social political positions and to prove that they were personality who deserved equal rights and opportunities. Despite Renaissance was mainly a men’s world in which women were regulated and controlled by lack of independence and social pressure, little by little they started their war for freedom and liberty. (Zwanger, 1997)
Zwanger, Meryl. (1997). Women and Art in Renaissance. Retrieved May 1, 2008, from http://www.columbia.edu/cu/sister/Renaissance.html
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