Today I listened to some very educative lectures by Dr. Vida Hull, art historian at the East Tennessee State University, who’s field of interest include Italian Renaissance Art, Jan Van Eyck, Northern Renaissance Art etc.
In this video she talks about Sofonisba Anguissola, a Renaissance Italian female artist, whose biography is pretty unusual for the time. She was an aristocrat, well educated, and married pretty late, around 30 or 40. She painted mostly portraits, because at the time (16th century) women were not allowed to draw nudes, which artists needed for the exact study human anatomy.
However, I think she took her artistic “career” very seriously and with pride. For the time, says Dr. Hull, painters had to be innovative in their works and Sofonisba Anguissola has some very unusual works like her self-portrait in which her teacher, Bernardino Campi, is actually making a portrait of her. A little bit more about this painting you can find here: Sofonisba Anguissola the “Miracolo di Natura”.
It is fantastic how much contextual information about the society and the status of noble women in Italy as well as about the artistic practices at the time Dr. Hull gives while talking about Sofonisba’s biography and artworks. This of course gives the key to understanding her work. Last but not least, Vida Hull is a fascinating lecturer, which makes her lectures also so enjoyable :) It is also motivating that you can find many lectures of hers on YouTube.