For centuries, the art world was a male preserve. Exceptionally talented and ambitious women became successful artists, only to be written out of the history of Western art. But how have women really seen themselves? What can self-portraits tell us about the way women have lived and worked? This book examines the subject, revealing a vibrant, colourful but largely overlooked genre. The two earliest self-portraits come from 12th-century manuscripts in which nuns gaze at us across eight centuries. In 1630 Artemisia Gentileschi depicted herself powerfully as the very personification of painting. From Adelaide Labille-Guiard to Angelica Kauffmann, in the 18th century, women signalled in their different ways ambition, femininity and the artist's calling. In this century, growing freedom and awareness have allowed for an increasingly intimate self-scrutiny, in the work of such artists as Gwen John and Paula Modersohn-Becker. Frida Kahlo's "The Broken Column" of 1944, shows her confined by the steel that supports her damaged spine. Sarah Lucas portrays herself as a tough, masculine outsider in photographs such as "Self Portrait with Fish". And when Cindy Sherman explores identity by transforming herself, she poses the questions that all the women in this book have faced when they "see" themselves - and help all of us to see ourselves too.