A Space of Their Own

Making space
for women artists.

We believe that it is crucial to the study of art to recognize the lives and works of women as invaluable contributions to the art world.

About A Space of Their Own

In 2019, the Eskenazi Museum of Art received a transformative estate gift from Jane Fortune, including sixty-one works of art and the resources to establish the Jane Fortune Fund for the Virtual Advancement of Women Artists. An Indiana-born art historian and philanthropist, Fortune dedicated her life to the preservation and advancement of work by women artists. Supported by Fortune’s vision and generosity, A Space of Their Own is a fulfilment and continuation of her ambitions on a digital platform.

Designed as a tool for reference, teaching, and exploration, A Space of Their Own is regularly updated and expanded to provide new insights about historical and contemporary women artists. The database launched in early 2022 with a core group of records documenting the lives and careers of women artists working in Europe and the United States between the sixteenth and nineteenth centuries. This chronological and geographic focus reflects Fortune’s research interests, as well as those of Dr. Adelheid Gealt, A Space of Their Own’s founding editor. As this resource continues to grow, it will include women artists working across centuries and continents, including contemporary and local women artists. For questions about this resource or to submit suggestions for edits, please contact Galina Olmsted, Managing Editor of A Space of Their Own.

About Jane Fortune

An advocate for the preservation, study, and exhibition of works by women artists, Jane Fortune was known in Florence as “Indiana Jane” and widely admired for her efforts. On a visit to the Museo di San Marco in Florence in 2006, she saw a painting by Plautilla Nelli that was in desperate need of restoration. One of just three surviving paintings to be made by the sixteenth-century nun at the Dominican convent of Saint Catherine of Siena, Lamentation with Saints set Fortune on her path to identify, conserve, and exhibit works by early modern women artists. In 2009, she founded Advancing Women Artists, a non-profit organization dedicated to preserving the overlooked contributions of women artists throughout history.

About Advancing Women Artists

Between 2009 and 2021, Advancing Women Artists (AWA) identified over 2,000 ‘lost’ works by women artists in public collections in Italy and financed the conservation of seventy, including paintings and sculptures made between the sixteenth and twentieth-centuries. Notably, AWA funded the conservation of Artemisia Gentileschi’s David and Bathsheba (1645-50), a damaged work that had languished in the attic of the Pitti Palace for over 350 years. Although the organization has since closed, its digital archive of restoration projects remains online and its mission to advance understanding and appreciation of work by women artists continues, in part, through A Space of Their Own.

About Adelheid Gealt

Dr. Adelheid “Heidi” Gealt is the Director Emerita of the Sidney and Lois Eskenazi Museum of Art and Professor Emerita in the Department of Art History at Indiana University. A longtime friend of Jane Fortune, she began her work on A Space of Their Own in 2015. From 2015 through 2021, she served as its founding editor, researching and drafting all of the records that were part of its launch in 2022. An internationally-recognized expert in early modern art and the lives and careers of women artists, Dr. Gealt has mentored countless undergraduate and graduate students over the course of her work on this project and their contributions have enriched this resource.