Take the "Nasty Women" Tour

Throughout history, there have been "nasty women"--
feisty path-breakers who make themselves heard. And the Met's walls are full of them--
find out on the "Nasty Women" tour!

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Women's History Art Museum Tours

On this fun and informative two-hour tour, you will meet the women who shattered the glass ceilings of their day—as artists who broke with convention, scientists who toppled stereotypes, and political figures who poisoned, slept and protested their way to power.

Our tour spans more than three thousand years, from ancient Egypt to modern America.

You’ll learn about

  • The most powerful female Pharaoh of Egypt and her famous tomb
  • The mythical women who frightened ancient Greek men
  • The first official Roman Empress and the complete erasure of her memory
  • The official mistresses of French kings and the power they wielded
  • A woman scientist of pre-Revolutionary France
  • The female painters whose focus on women’s lives, instead of their bodies, changed modern painting.
  • A suffragette who was one of the Metropolitan’s main donors

…and so much more. Come with us to learn about the rich history of women who refused to put up and shut up—and changed the world instead.
Nasty Women of the Metropolitan Museum

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Edith Minturn Stokes

Sargent portrayed Edith Minturn Stokes in a bicycling costume, with a boater hat balanced casually on her hip—and her husband in the shadows behind her. “No shrinking violet she,” he seems to tell us. Indeed, this is what Edith Stokes was like.

She was only persuaded to get married with difficulty and was an active philanthropist—the President of the New York Kindergarten Association and founder of a sewing school for immigrant women. She also regularly modeled for Daniel Chester French, whose 65 foot high “The Republic” at the Chicago world’s fair of 1893 was modeled on her.

Nasty Women of the Metropolitan Museum

Marie-Denise Villers

After the Revolution, when the annual Salon was opened to artists who were not members of the Royal Academy, a wave of women artists began. Most have been forgotten now; indeed until recently most of their works (including this one) were attributed to better-known artists, such as David.

This picture of Charlotte du Val d’Ognes by Marie-Denise Villers is particularly interesting, in that it is a view of a woman artist by a woman artist. Women are not passive objects here: the artist is a woman, and even the object of her artistic gaze is an artist as well.

Nasty Women of the Metropolitan Museum

Julia Mamaea

Julia Mamaea was one of the most powerful women in Roman history. When her son Alexander Severus was named Emperor in 222 AD, he was only 14, and she ruled as regent for him. Indeed, even as Emperor he seems to have remained under her control, which he demonstrated by naming her his Imperial consort. In fact, she was the first woman ever officially named Empress of Rome. When they were assassinated together in 228 AD, Julia Mamaea was subjected to damnatio memoriae. i.e. all references to her were erased, and this bust may have been smashed at that time.

Nasty Women of the Metropolitan Museum

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