Artist

Sofonisba Anguissola

Portrait Group with the Artist’s Father Amilcare Anguissola and her Siblings Minerva and Astrubale.

  • Italian, 1532 – 1625
  • Oil on Canvas, 157 x 122 cm
  • 1558 – 1559
  • Nivaagaards Malerisamling, Denmark; acquired 1873

        The Artist

        Born into an aristocratic family in Cremona, the oldest of seven children, Sofonisba Anguissola was an artistic prodigy. In her lifetime, her talent was noted by Michelangelo, Vasari and Van Dyck. Unusually for a woman—her father was a humanist with forward-thinking ideas about the educating and training women—she was permitted to apprentice as a painter. As a young woman, she spent some years in the court of Philip II, first as a lady-in-waiting to the Spanish queen, Elizabeth of Valois, and later as a court painter. Philip eventually accorded her a lifelong pension. While a few of her extant works touch on religious themes, most are portraits. She was particularly sought after as a portrait artist; she had a special gift for conveying the personalities of her subjects. Her surviving works, which are held in museums all over the world, include at least 16 self-portraits, from all stages of her life (from young to old).  According to the Museum of Fine Arts Boston website, she “executed more self-portraits than any other artist in the period between Dürer and Rembrandt.”

        Learn more about Anguissola’s painting Portrait Group with the Artist’s Father Amilcare Anguissola and her siblings Minerva and Astrubale: Nivaagaard’s Malereisamling

        Upcoming Exhibition featuring Sofonisba Anguissola:

        In celebration of its 200th anniversary, Madrid’s Prado museum has announced an exhibition of works by two Renaissance women artists, Lavinia Fontana and Sofonisba Anguissola. The exhibition is due to open in October 2019. Exhibition

        Books about Sofonisba Anguissola

        Nonfiction

        Sofonisba Anguissola: The First Great Woman Artist of the Renaissance, by Ilya Sandra Perlingieri (Rizzoli, 1992)

        Sofonisba Anguissola: A Renaissance Woman, by Sylvia Ferino-Pagden with Maria Kusche National Museum of Women in the Arts

        Fiction

        Lady in Ermine: The Story of a Woman who Painted the Renaissance, by Donna Di Giuseppe (Bagwyn Books, 2019)

        Learn more online about Sofonisba Anguissola at:

        Sotheby’s: Explore >

        National Museum of Women in the Arts: Explore >

        Europeana Collections: Explore >

        Smarthistory: Explore >

        The Art Story: Explore >

        Mail

        PO Box 8219
        Essex Junction, VT 05451

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