Catalogue of the exhibition A Tale of Two Women Painters: Sofonisba Anguissola and Lavinia Fontana, on view at the Museo Nacional del Prado in Madrid from October 22th 2019 to February 2nd 2020.
24 x 28 cm
English (also available in Spanish)
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A Tale of Two Women Painters: Sofonisba Anguissola and Lavinia Fontana is the first book to compare the works of two pioneering women in the history of painting. These artists represent two different models of creators whose personality, recognition, and life story played a decisive role in blazing new trails for subsequent female painters to follow. They were both born in Italy, an environment that was advantageous to women’s art and where there was furthermore considerable concern throughout the sixteenth century with dignifying and educating women in settings other than convents, the main centres for their cultural enrichment and artistic development since the Middle Ages. Likewise, they both received essential encouragement from their fathers, who viewed their daughters’ artistic talent as a source of family livelihood.
This catalogue analyses the features common to both women as well as the differences stemming from their social backgrounds. The early fame achieved by the noble-born Sofonisba Anguissola as a painter infused women’s practice of the art with dignity and led to her appointment as lady-in-waiting to Queen Isabel de Valois, though her post at the Spanish court conditioned and constrained her artistic career. Back in Italy, her long, eventful life was accompanied by a recognition that has lasted until the present, earning her mythical status. Lavinia Fontana’s life story is more in keeping with that of other female artists: she trained with her father, a prominent painter, who helped her become the first professional woman artist with a workshop of her own.
The catalogue is edited by Leticia Ruiz Gómez, Head of the Department of Spanish Renaissance Painting at the Museo del Prado. It has texts by Leticia Ruiz, Michael Cole, Almudena Pérez de Tudela, in addition to a technical study co-written by Maite Jover, María Dolores Gayo and Laura Alba.
This publication offers a new assessment of two women painters whose artistic personalities became obscured over time but who have recently been the subject of renewed interest on the part of researchers and the general public.
It includes a detailed chronology of the two painters, an exhaustive bibliography and full index of names.