"Why have there been no great women artists?" Linda Nochlin asked in 1971 and then went on to answer her own question in an essay of the same title. She raised many important issues, one of the most controversial being that women really haven't been able to be great artists (like Rembrant, Van Gogh, or Michelangelo) because the society that they lived in made it impossible.
She compares women artists to the many kings and queens who have loved and patronized the arts. (like Haydn's patron, Prince Esterhazy). Aristocrats (like women) have too many social responsiblities and although they may have had leisure time and were encouraged to 'dabble' in many art forms they were just not taken seriously.
She raises some other good points in the essay. One is that we can raise our boys AND girls to be creative. Genius is not innate, it is learned, she asserts.
Let’s ask the right question, she says.
What are the conditions necessary to produce great art?