Sofonisba Anguissola: More than a Woman

Sofonisba Anguissola, Bernardino Campi painting her, Siena: Pinacoteca Nazionale
Sofonisba Anguissola, Bernardino Campi painting her, Siena: Pinacoteca Nazionale

Summary: Sofonisba Anguissola (1532-1625) surpassed the expectations of women during the Italian Renaissance. She was well educated and trained under the tutelage of Bernardino Campi from 1545 to 1549 and thereafter with Bernardino Barri. With the help of her father, her works were well marketed and dispersed within the influential social circles of Florence. A letter between Sofonisba’s father and a Roman general described the presentation of two drawings, one by Sofonisba and the other by Michelangelo Buonarroti, to Cosimo Medici around 1562. Within this letter, a story is told of Michelangelo asking Sofonisba to draw a more difficult expression of sadness; her reply was the image, “Boy Bitten by a Crayfish.” Her ability to create highly animated portraits allowed her to have a long flourishing career as an artist and created a lasting legacy that made her “more than a woman”.

Authors: Carol Telesky, Kendra Hunt, Rebecca Rastegar, Alexandria Covert. Actor: Jim Woglom.

Links: There is an excellent biography of Sofonisba and list of works here! You may also read about her at the National Museum of Women in the arts website.

Select Bibliography:

Fulmer, Betsy, “Sofonisba Anguissola: Marvel of Nature,” Academic Forum 23 (2005-06) : 20-34.

Garrard, Mary D, “Here’s Looking at Me: Sofonisba Anguissola and the Problem of the Woman Artist,” Renaissance Quarterly XLVII, 3 (1994) : 556-622.

Jacobs, Fredrika H. “Woman’s Capacity to Create: The Unusual Case of Sofonisba Anguissola,” Renaissance Quarterly 47, 1 (Spring 1994), 74-101.

Ross, Sarah Gwyneth. “Anguissola, Sofonisba,” entry in Encyclopedia of Women in the Arts: Italy, France, and England, eds. Diana Robin, Anne R. Larsen, Carole Levin (ABC Clio, 2007), 14-18.

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