Discover below our collection of the 10 most significant women artists in the world, covering everything from the Renaissance up to the present day. We have tried to make the list as varied and interesting as possible and have also included examples of some of their most famous artworks alongside so that you can quickly get an understand of each artist, for those who are unfamiliar with them. There were many of the fringes who could easily have been included within this group, and so certainly others will disagree with some of our inclusions and exclusions - it is, after all, a particularly subjective choice that we have had to take.

In terms of influence, we are of course talking about how an artist influenced the art world, rather than necessarily changing society outside of that sphere. There has certainly been a knock-on effect in some cases, where the increased prominence of women in art has also helped their emergence in other areas but this list does not look too far beyond the art scene itself. Whilst some women have been forced to use similar content and techniques to their male counterparts in order to gain some level of acceptance, others have achieved success by producing art from a uniquely female perspective, whatever that might entail. For example, the female impressionists would reflect life for the hidden gender, often tucked away at home, looking after domestic concerns. This had a bigger impact than simply a variety of content within the movement, and several male impressionist painters encouraged them to continue along these lines.

Whilst issues still impact women around equality in the arts, you will notice from the list below that the vast majority of famous names have occurred over the past two centuries, underlining just how much progress has been made towards true equality, compared to where we were previously. In fact, the industry could perhaps claim to be closer to the ideal scenario than a number of other industries today, though with still a lot of work left to do. That said, other issues remain such as allowing those from poorer backgrounds to gain attention to their work, as well as those from non-Caucasion backgrounds in order to reflect the changing balance of modern society. There will likely always be a certain element of one group or another seeking greater inclusion within one section of society or another, but one can just always strive for improvements and advancements over time.

List of the Most Famous Female Artists

  1. Artemisia Gentileschi

  2. Sonia Delaunay

  3. Tamara de Lempicka

  4. Mary Cassatt

  5. Berthe Morisot

    This French artist was to concentrate on topics related to the life of women within her work and this added an important string to the already impressive bow of the impressionist movement. The likes of Monet and Renoir were particularly encouraging and she would feature in a number of exhibitions in which the best paintings from this creative collective were put on display for the intrigued public to enjoy. Family life and domestic scenes dominated her oeuvre and her touch of the brush was particularly delicate. Berthe Morisot would also marry into the Manet family which further connected her into the French art world and ensured that she had all the support that she needed for her talents to succeed.

  6. Barbara Hepworth

  7. Bridget Riley

  8. Tracey Emin

  9. Georgia O'Keeffe

    O'Keeffe was a truly unique artist who took natural items local to her as inspiration for some extraordinary, expressive artworks. Her colours schemes were vivid and her minimal detail has similarities to modern illustration. She is clearly one of the most famous American artists in history, of any gender, and a museum in her name continues to promote her work to new generations. Flowers were common within her work, but there were also series around bones that she found lying around as well as various architectural pieces, some of buildings in the wilderness and others of cityscapes with a far busier atmosphere. The style of Georgia O'Keeffe's paintings is generally termed as Modernism, but in truth her oeuvre remains entirely unique.

  10. Frida Kahlo

    Well, we could hardly publish an article about the most famous female artists in history in this website devoted to Frida Kahlo, and not choose her as our number one! Her influence was impacted by both her bright and uplifting artistic style, but also the severe difficulties that she experienced, and overcame, during her lifetime. It was her injuries and turbulent relationships which fuelled much of her expressive art whilst her Mexican themed style also boosted her role as a significant niche artist, from the perspective of Europeans. It is unfortunate that without her connection to the Mexican muralist, Diego Rivera, she may never have achieved fame, but this further underlines the overall situation for women in the art world over the past few centuries.