Meet Sofonisba Anguissola, the first successful Renaissance painter who was forgotten and whose works were attributed to other painters.
Sofonisba Anguissola was a woman whose role in the history of art should not go unnoticed; especially when the role of women has been diminished or hidden, and on many occasions, they have been forced to sign with male pseudonyms or as in the case of this painter, in which her copyists and contemporaries took the credit.
The story of Anguissola and her painting begins in Italy in the 16th century. Daughter of a family of low nobility, but with enough contacts and sensitivity. Despite being six women and one man, they all had access to art education, although Anguissola never had access to anatomy studies, she could not even charge for her work, as it was not proper for a woman and would dishonor her.
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Among her teachers were Bernardino Campi and Bernardino Gatti “the sojaro”, with whom she mastered the art of portraiture until she moved to Rome. There he met none other than Michelangelo, who informally became his master. An excerpt from a letter from his father to the painter verses:
“I assure you that among the many favors which I owe to God, I include that of knowing that a gentleman so eminent and so replete with talent, more than any other being in the world, has been so good as to examine, judge, and praise the paintings made by my daughter, Sophonisba.”
Her origin speaks of the privileges she could enjoy as a painter at a time when the role of women was restricted to marriage and motherhood.
Her talent earned her the recognition of Giorgio Vasari -who will be considered one of the first art critics- and together with her noble origin, helped her to join the court of King Philip II and his wife Isabella of Valois, whom she instructed in painting. There she painted several portraits of the royal family, earning her almost lifelong patronage.
During her stay she lived with other court painters such as Alonso Sánchez Coello and Antonio Moro, to whom the paintings of Anguissola would be attributed.
From then on, Sofonisba married with the favor of King Philip II, although after the premature death of her first husband she would remarry, without interrupting her artistic production. Anguissola’s work includes mainly portraits and self-portraits, which she advocated because it was one of the few subjects she could paint like a woman. They are characterized by being intimate and less cold than the usual work of the time.
In her paintings we see the subjects in more relaxed poses, performing everyday activities.
In fact, it is recorded that she received the Flemish painter Anton Van Dyck, who at the time was one of the most famous and popular portraitists, and who is said to have been strongly influenced by the teachings of Sofonisba Anguissola.
Today, his works have been properly credited thanks to research work and there are even works whose authorship is still in dispute.
Story originally published in Cultura Colectiva in SpanishPodría interesarte