The Women Writers Project is providing free public access* to Women Writers Online, a database of early modern texts written by women, during Women’s History month. While the database does not contain images, you may find some interesting commentary on art and artists, for example:
excerpts from pages 89 and 111 of Margaret (Lucas) Cavendish, Duchess of Newcastle, The World’s Olio, 1655 (pages 89, 111)
Or it were better see a Gentleman hew down trees, or dig in the bowels of the earth amongst minerals, than painting, or pencilling: for that shews manly strength, command and force over the hardiest of natures works, so as it be voluntary and not slavish. It is more manly to be a Souldier . . .
“There be some that condemn the Art of Painting in Women, others that defend it; for, say they, as Nature hath made one World, so Art another, and that Art is become the Mistris of Nature; neither is it against Nature to help the Defects. Besides, those that find out new Arts, are esteemed so, that they become as Petty Gods, whether they become Advantageous to Man, or no . . .”