Artist

Sofonisba Anguissola

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

  • Sofonisba Anguissola (Italian, 1532–1625)
  • Oil on canvas, 157 x 122 cm
  • 1558–1559
  • Nivaagaards Malerisamling, Denmark; acquired 1873

 

 

The Chess Game

  • Sofonisba Anguissola (Italian, 1532–1625)
  • Oil on canvas, 72 x 92 cm
  • 1555
  • Raczyński Foundation, National Museum, Poznań

        The Artist

        Sofonisba Anguissola, an Italian noblewoman, was an artistic prodigy. In her lifetime, her talent was noted by Michelangelo, Vasari and Van Dyck. Her father was a humanist with forward-thinking ideas about the educating and training women. So, unusually for that time, she was permitted to train as a painter. As a young woman, she spent some years in the court of Philip II, in Spain. Initially she was a lady-in-waiting to the Spanish queen, Elizabeth of Valois, to whom she taught painting. She stayed on after the queen’s death, and her position allowed her to continue painting. Philip eventually gave 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, because she had a special gift for capturing on canvas 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 quite 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: Nivaagaards Malerisamling

        Upcoming and recent exhibitions featuring Sofonisba Anguissola:

        At Milan’s Palazzo Reale in Spring 2021, the exhibition Le Signore dell’Arte. Storie di donne tra ’500 e ’600 rediscovers the art and the extraordinary lives of 34 different women artists, including Sofonisba Anguissola, as well as Artemisia Gentileschi, Giovanna Garzoni, Elisabetta Sirani, Lavinia Fontana, Ginevra Cantofoli, Fede Galizia, and others. It will showcase some 150 paintings from no fewer than 67 different lenders, including many Italian museums; the Musée des Beaux Arts in Marseille; and Muzeum Narodowe in Poznan, Poland.

        The Wadsworth Atheneum and the Detroit Institute of Arts are collaborating to present By Her Hand: Artemisia Gentileschi and Women Artists in Italy, 1500–1800. The show capitalizes on the strong presence of Italian Renaissance and Baroque women artists in American and European collections. The organizers’ intent is to introduce to the public a ‘diverse and dynamic’ group of female Old Masters, including not only Anguissola but also Artemisia Gentileschi; printer and painter Elisabetta Sirani; and other talented, but now virtually unknown, women artists. Because of the pandemic, the exhibition has been postponed; dates are tentative, but it is likely to open in Hartford on September 30, 2021; and in Detroit on February 6, 2022. Exhibition

        In celebration of its 200th anniversary, Madrid’s Prado museum put on an exhibition of works by two Renaissance women artists, Lavinia Fontana and Sofonisba Anguissola. The exhibition ran from October 2019 until early February 2020. Exhibition

        Books about Sofonisba Anguissola

        Nonfiction

        Sofonisba’s Lesson: A Renaissance Artist and Her Work, by Michael W. Cole (Princeton University Press, 2020)

        A Tale of Two Women Painters: Sofonisba Anguissola and Lavinia Fontana (exhibition catalog, Museo Nacional del Prado, 2019)

        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, 1995)

        Fiction

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

        Sofonisba: Portraits of the Soul, by Chiara Montani (Independently published, 2019)

        The Secret Life of Sofonisba Anguissola, by Melissa Muldoon (Matta Press, 2020)

        Learn more online about Sofonisba Anguissola at:

        The Art Herstory blog: 

        Renaissance Women Painting Themselves, by Katherine McIver

        A Tale of Two Women Painters, by Natasha Moura

         

        Sotheby’s: Explore >

        National Museum of Women in the Arts: Explore >

        Europeana Collections: Explore >

        Smarthistory: Explore >

        The Art Story: Explore >

        Jill Burke’s blog: Explore >

         

         

         

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