A Woman that Paved the Way for Female Painters: Sofonisba Anguissola.

A Woman that Paved the Way Back to school Girl Power Ladies in Art History Sofonisba Anguissola

Nowadays women conform an important part of the modern art scene…BUT HAVE YOU EVER WONDERED HOW DID WE GET HERE?  

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You must time travel with us to the Renaissance! And meet one Lady and a father who paved the way..

Generally described as taking place from the 14th century to the 17th century, the Renaissance promoted the rediscovery of classical philosophy, literature and art. During this era, if you were a women of the lower class you were almost completely unable to receive an education! But if you were lucky enough to have been born a *noblewoman you would have been allowed to receive a humanist education.

*Noblewoman conform the Nobility: a social class normally ranked immediately below royalty, possessing more acknowledged privilege and higher social status than most other classes in society.

Sofonisba Anguissola, was one of the 1st women to be able to study and work professionally - in the art scene-  during the Renaissance era.

1. Portrait of Sofonisba Anguissola by wikki commons 

In a time where elite women were allowed to study, it was not common for them to pursue a profession. What set her story apart was that she was not the daughter of an Artist, nor someone who wanted to become a Nun..  but a Painter! 

Regardless, Sofonisba managed to become a renowned Italian Artist... receiving praise from known artists like Michelangelo, Vasari and Van Dyck! 

2. The Chess Game (Sofonisba Anguissola) by wikki commons 

Sofonisba began to manifest exceptional art skills from a young age, but most importantly, she was allowed to train as a painter because 
her father was a humanist with forward thinking ideas in regards to the education and training of women #ACoolDad!

A Moment to Reflect: Practice and Support Makes the Masters! Sofonisba, along with her sister, began their formal training as Artists at the housold of Bernardino Campi as apprenticesAfter that she also continued her training with Bernardino Gatti. 

Sofonisba began to gain a name for herself for being an innovative artist, by creating portraits that had narrative and intellectual nuances.. unique by the informal ways her subjects were placed, performing activities.. etc. 

3. Young girl laughing at the old woman by New York Public Library

It was precisely this that caught the attention of one of the Renaissance most famous artists, Michelangelo Buonarroti. Through letters they would interact, and he would help her by giving her advice and critiquing her work - Just imagine getting advice from one of the best artist of your time!


4. Portrait of Elisabeth of Valois by Sofonisba Anguissola, wikki commons 

Moving forward from success to more success! In 1559 Sofonisba even had the opportunity to become a *lady-in-waitng to Elisabeth of Valois, wife of the king of Spain.  As a lady in waiting,  a female is a personal assistant at court, attending on a higher- ranking royal.

During her time, Sofonisba actually tutored the queen for sketching and painting learning purposes. She also worked on many full-size and miniature portraits of courtiers and Spanish royalty, including the queen. 

After serving the royals, when the queen died, Anguissola stayed in Spain, and was arranged to be married to Sicilian Fabrizio de Moncada at the age of 40! - Interesting times!

Little is known of Sofonisba after her marriage, but she continued to produce religious paintings that showed the life like aspects and delicate storytelling that made her work so famous. 

5. The Holy Family with Sts. Anne & John the Baptist' by Sofonisba Anguissola.JPG

It was that little push from a father, and that inner decision from Sofonisba: to move forward and become an Artist- what may have inspired a large number of female Artists of the time, like Artemisia Gentileschi, to ignore the social standard that females have had to follow, and fight for their passion and independence.  

Ladies, take that step. Do your thing and do it unapologetically. Don't be discouraged by criticism... be like Sofonisba Anguissola



Blog by Isabela Gaya and Editor, VIII.  

1. Sailko, CC BY 3.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0>, via Wikimedia Commons
2. Mortendrak, CC BY-SA 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons
3. Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal Public Domain Dedication ("CCO 1.0 Dedication")
4. Juan Pantoja de la Cruz, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
5. Sofonisba Anguissola, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
Tara Field, (2013). Women Painters during the Italian Renaissance. Retrived from https://news.artnet.com/market/women-painters-during-the-italian-renaissance-35656 Aug 30 2021 
The Art Story, (2021). Sofonisba Anguissola - Biography and Legacy. Retrived from https://www.theartstory.org/artist/anguissola-sofonisba/life-and-legacy/ Aug 30 2021 


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