In 2009 I taught a course called “Women and Art in Early Modern Italy“. The course situates the role of women in Renaissance and Baroque Italian art: as persons depicted, as patrons, and as producers. Topics covered are

  1. the moral, social, and religious models for women as they were constructed both implicitly and explicitly through visual art and literature
  2. female patronage – the limits to which women were subjected in this field of public expression
  3. biographies of and works by female artists.

The women and art bibliography below this reflects these three branches of the field.

Artemisia Gentileschi, the Pomersfield Susanna and the Elders

Women and art bibliography

Primary Sources

Alberti, Leon Battista, I tre libri della famiglia/ The Family in Renaissance Florence (written 1434-7), ed. Trans. Renée Watkins (University of South Carolina Press, 1969).

Cereta, Laura, Collected letters of a Renaissance Feminist, Ed. Trans. Diana Robin (University of Chicago Press, 1997).

Firenzuola, Agnolo, On the Beauty of Women (written 1541), ed. Trans. Konrad Eisenbichler (Univerity of Pensylvania Press, 1992).

Strozzi, Alessandra. Selected Letters, ed. Trans. Heather Gregory (University of California Press, 1997).

Various topics

Bernstein, Joanne, “The Female Model and the Renaissance Nude: Durer, Giorgione, and Raphael,” in Artibus et Historiae Vol. 13, No. 26, (1992), pp. 49-63.

Cohen, Elizabeth S., “Courtesans and Whores: Words and Behavior in Roman Streets,” in Women’s Studies 19 (1991): 201-8.

Emison, Patricia, “Truth and Bizzarria in and Engraving of Lo Stregozzo,” Art Bulletin 81:4 (Dec. 1999), pp. 623-636.

Ferino-Pagden, Sylvia, “Pictures of Women, Pictures of Love” in Bellini Giorgione Titian and the Renaissance of Venetian Painting (exhibition catalogue, 2006), pp. 190-235.

Joan-Kelly Gadol, “Did Women Have a Renaissance?” in Becoming Visible (1987).

King, Catherine E. Renaissance Women Patrons: Wives and Widows in Italy 1300-1550 (Manchester University Press, 1998).

Matthews-Grieco, Sara and Geraldine Johnson, Picturing Women in Renaissance and Baroque Italy (Cambridge UP, 1997).

Musacchio, Jacqueline Marie, The Art and Ritual of Childbirth in Renaissance Italy (Yale University Press, 1999).

Neave, Dorinda, “The Witch in Early 16th-century German Art,” Woman’s Art Journal 9:1 (1988), pp. 3-9.

Radke, Gary. “Nuns and Their Art: The Case of San Zaccaria in Renaissance Venice,” in Ren Quart 54:2 (Summer 2001), pp. 430-59.

Randolph, Adrian, “Performing the bridal body in 15th-century Florence” in Art History 21 (1998), 182-200.

San Juan, Rose Marie, “The Court Lady’s Dilemma: Isabella d’Este and Art Collecting in the Renaissance” in Oxford Art Journal, Vol. 14, No. 1, (1991), pp. 67-78.

Simons, Patricia, “Women in Frames: The gaze, the eye, the profile in Renaissance portraiture,” in History Workshop 25 (Spring 1988), pp. 4-30.

Stefaniak, R. “Correggio’s Camera di S. Paolo: An Archaeology of the Gaze,” Art History 16(1993): 203-238.

Tinagli, Paola. Women in Italian Renaissance Art. Gender Representation Identity (Manchester University Press, 1997).

Trexler, Richard, The Women of Renaissance Florence (Power and Dependence, Vol. II) (SUNY Binghamton, 1993; reprint of earlier articles).

Joyce de Vries, “Caterina Sforza’s Portrait Medals: Power, Gender, and Representation in the Italian Renaissance Court,” in Woman’s Art Journal, Vol. 24, No. 1 (Spring – Summer, 2003), pp. 23-28.

Women artists

Bal, Mieke (ed.), The Artemisia  files: Artemisia Gentileschi for Feminists and other thinking people (University of Chicago Press, 2005).

Bohn, Babette, “The antique heroines of Elisabetta Sirani” in Renaissance Studies 16: 1 (2002), pp. 52-79.

“   “Female Self-Portraiture” Renaissance Studies 18:2 (2004), pp. 239-286.

Cohen, Elizabeth S. “The Trials of Artemisia Gentileschi: A Rape as History,” in Sixteenth Century Journal, Vol. 31, No. 1, pp. 47-75.

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

“   Artemisia Gentileschi: The Image of the Female Hero in Italian Baroque Art (Princeton UP, 1989).

“   Artemisia Gentileschi around 1622: The shaping and reshaping of an artistic identity (University of California Press, 2001).

Gaze, Delia (ed.), Dictionary of Women Artists 2v. (London: Fitzroy Dearborn Publishers, 1997).

Jacobs, Fredrika H., “Woman’s capacity to create: The unusual case of Sofonisba Anguissola,” in Ren Quart XLVII: 1 (1994): 74f.

Lincoln, Evelyn, “Making a Good Impression: Diana Mantovana’s Printmaking Career”, in Renaissance Quarterly, Vol. 50, No. 4 (Winter, 1997), pp. 1101-1147.

Markey, Lia, “The Female Printmaker and the Culture of the Reproductive Print Workshop” in Rebecca Zorach (ed.), Paper Museums: The Reproductive Print in Europe (Chicago, Smart Museum, 2005).

Murphy, Caroline P., “Lavinia Fontana and Le Dame della Città: understanding female artistic patronage in late sixteenth-century Bologna”, in Renaissance Studies 10:2 (1996): 190f.

“   “Lavinia Fontana and female life cycle experience in late sixteenth-century Bologna”, in Sara Matthews-Grieco and Geraldine Johnson (eds.), Picturing Women.

“   Lavinia Fontana. A painter and her patrons (Yale University Press, 2003).

Nelson, Jonathan (ed.), Suor Plautilla Nelli (1523-1588): The First Woman Painter of Florence – Symposium, May 27, 1998 (Edizioni Cadmo, 2000).t]

“   Plautilla Nelli (1524-1588): The Painter-Prioress of Renaissance Florence (Syracuse University Florence Press, 2008). [I own this book, you can borrow it]

Robin, Diana, Anne Larsen, and Carole Levin (eds.), Encyclopedia of Women in the Renaissance (Oxford, ABC Clio, 2007).

Strinati, Claudia and Jordana Pomeroy (eds.), Italian Women Artists from Renaissance to Baroque (Skira Editore, 2007).


Further reading on this blog


Being a woman in Italy… in the Renaissance

Ospedale degli Innocenti: a social history


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