Jean, your point is well taken. There is also the possibility that, in addition, the authors may not have researched any further than women painters. If your sources were just talking about painters rather than all art forms, they were too narrowly focused and made the mistake of using the word artist instead of painter or assumed the reader would know they were talking about painters only.
It really is a wonder that most history isn't distorted (or maybe most is and we don't realize it) by the lack of precision in wording, not to mention thoroughness in research. I think that is especially true today with so many contract authors on deadlines that make it difficult to be so thorough. Oh, and then there are the errors of previous authors that get compounded when they are used as sources. We could go on and on about errors in language translation and changes in word use that skew things if a more modern author is not aware of them. Ex: Egregious. When you hear that word you automatically think negative. The word means extraordinary, distinguished, outstanding. In Roman times, it was a positive word, now-a-days it is most definitely negative. A complete flip on the meaning/intent which, if you didn't know that, you might think of some ancient action being related as something awful rather than something that was positive or praised at the time.
Even worse, these days, is the lack of precision in speaking. I am sometimes guilty of same. I believe our current President suffers from imprecise language and a lack of proper word usage.
And don't start me on the hidden agendas of some writers and how they slant their wording, while preserving the actual event itself, toward one or another personal belief or world view regarding a person or event.
Uh, Oh! I got on a soapbox. Off it now.