The status of women in Western Europe at the turn of the 20th century was clearly defined by the dominant patriarchal system. In Poland, the situation was somewhat different. The political situation and frequent absence of men participating in various uprisings forced women to become more independent and self-reliant. However, it was still an uphill climb for those who chose painting as their vocation, mainly because renowned art schools were off limits for aspiring female artists. However, those few who were financially independent managed to pursue a career in art . Anna Bilińska managed to do that thanks to the money bequeathed to her in her friend’s last will. Bilińska was the first Polish female student of painting in Paris. The artist had no reservations about painting herself wearing a painter’s apron, with her hair dishevelled, daringly putting it all on public display. For Bilińska, professional fulfilment, so hard to attain for women of the time, is far more important than her looks.


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