The nineteenth century saw the emergence of more professional women artists than ever before.
But they still faced the age-old presumption: that a woman's role in life was to marry and have children.
If they were ambitious enough to flout convention, they were still hampered by their lack of proper training.
But from mid-century onwards, women were able to attend private art schools in Paris and could, for the first time ever, study the nude figure.
Paris was the centre of the art world, the fountainhead of revolutionary styles of painting - Impressionism, Post-Impressionism and Cubism - which succeeded one another with bewildering speed.
Many of the artists who flocked to the city were the emancipated New Women who had the confidence to take advantage of their new-found freedom and of a thriving art market.
This book examines the careers of well-known artists like Mary Cassatt and Berthe Morisot, but also of artists who have been consistently ignored by museums, galleries and art historians.
It introduces superb artists from not just France, but America, Britain, Scandinavia, Finland and Russia.
The chapters describe the life of foreign students attending the Paris art schools; the artists's colonies that spread throughout Europe; the young Americans who travelled to Rome to pursue careers as sculptors; and the often tragic lives of women who acted as muses to male artists.
The book is enriched with sixty illustrations in glorious colour.