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Sofonisba Anguissola

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S: Sofonisba Anguissola

BC: Written By: Brooke Nona

FC: Sofonisba Anguissola

1: My name is Sofonisba Anguissola. I was born in 1532 and grew up in Cremona, Lombardy, Italy. "I could always see your dream as a painter when you were younger. It became obvious when I realized you had learned to paint a picture before you learned to write" my father once told me.

2: As a young girl, I was encouraged to perfect my talent as a painter by my father. At the age of 14, I studied with Bernardino Campi, and later on, I studied with Bernardino Gatti. I was always passionate about my paintings, and as I grew older my desire to create artwork grew and grew.

3: When Michelangelo requested for me to draw him a weeping boy, I surprised him by drawing Child Bitten by a Crab. At first when asked to paint for him, I was anxious. Michelangelo and I had an instant connection though our artistic passion. He immediately recognized my talent and our informal study continued for two years.

4: After having the honor of working with Michelangelo had ended, Philip II made me court painter in Madrid. I also was the lady-in-waiting to Philip II's wife, Elisabeth of Valois. I tutored her on painting and I felt I had been successful.

5: I eventually gained the Queen's trust and went on to paint official portraits for the court. I felt this work was far more demanding and took more time and energy because replicating the intricate designs of the royal subjects was challenging. After finishing the paintings of Elizabeth of Valois, many renowned painters complicated my artwork because they felt it was vibrant and full of life. One artist once told me "Your paintings depict the reality of the person and the surroundings. I feel your artistic skills are extraordinary and one of a kind."

6: At the age of thirty-eight I was still unmarried, but I had felt I had gained the respect of other artists. I continued to paint with passion and soon after Elisabeth's death, something unexpected happened. | S U P R I S E

7: At first, I could feel the walls caving in. I broke into a cold sweat and my legs began to stiffen. My knees were trembling and my hands became clammy. I had just found out that Philip II had arranged a marriage for me. At first, I was terrified because I had become comfortable in my own private world. I felt I was happy and I didn't need a man to please me. Since Philip II had been so generous to me, I opened my heart to Don Francisco de Moncada. The wedding ceremony was absolutely perfect. There was dancing, food, and beautiful words exchanged between him and I expressing our love for one another. In 1579 my husband died. I became contempt with his death because I know we lived a wonderful life together.

8: At the age of forty-seven, I found another man I had grew to love. As I was traveling to Cremona, I fell in love with Orazio Lomellino. He was the captain of the ship that I was traveling on, and we married shortly after.

9: I had become a well known female artist and my marriage to Orazio allowed me to paint freely. | I was proud of my large collection of portraits, paintings, and even some religious works.

10: This is a portrait of Philip II. I painted this portrait while I worked for him. I painted many portraits of him, his wife, and many of their relatives.

11: I painted Queen Elisabeth's portrait while I worked for Philip II. I was her lady-in-waiting, and I also successfully taught her how to paint.

12: Over my lifetime and adventures, I have had many wonderful influential artists. I believe Michelangelo's contributions to my artwork help shape my artistic vision and passion. He gave me a great opportunity and I will never forget him. I remember the first thing he said to me, "I used to believe women could not portray a realistic object onto a canvas. After analyzing your paintings, I believe my whole thought process has been disrupted."

13: I painted this of Lucia, Minerva, and Europa Anguissola, my sisters, playing chess. I am the oldest of seven children, six of whom are daughters.

14: This portrait of me shows myself painting my own artwork. My face looks blank in this panting, but I was actually trying to show mystery. I believe a true artist not only happiness when painting, but can be serious when working. One of my mentors once told me that "In order to be great, you must you must show greatness. Hard work and dedication are the key ingredients to success."

15: This is a painting of Bernardino Campi painting a portrait of me, Sofonisba Anguissola. He was one of my mentors and it was an honor to have the opportunity to work with him.

16: The last pages in my journal are paintings I had painted over my lifetime. I have a large collection of my artwork and I love for others to study and interpret my paintings. My Orazio was a blessing. We were blessed with money to help me live my dream as an artist. Till this day, I can still remember when my husband told me he thought I was the most talented artist in the Renaissance. His words still linger in my head when I doubt my passion to follow my dream.

17: I have always felt that self portraits are the most expressive side of an artist. The above paintings are self portraits. I see myself as a hard working, passionate woman who made something of herself in the male-dominated Renaissance.

18: As I grew older, I began to lose my eye sight. Although it became more difficult to paint, I still painted with as much desire and passion as I did when I was younger. I believe perseverance is key to any dream. | Throughout my life, I learned many things. I never will give up. I have studied with many great artists and learned techniques as well as life lessons that I could not have learned any where else. My life has been an amazing adventure and I thank my friends, mentors, and most importantly... my family. I studied with Michelangelo, worked for Philip II for twenty years, and married two wonderful men. My life has been well worth the ride. I hope someday my paintings mean something to someone somewhere.

19: I never imagined I would have lived this long. People usually die in their thirties. I have lived to be ninety-three. I was even forced to prove that I was still alive in order to receive the king's pension. Thankfully, I proved my existence.

20: Sofonisba Anguissola was unable to finish her diary. In honor of her contributions to the famous paintings she produced, some people who have analyzed her life chose to complete her life story in her diary. She died on November 16, 1625.She astonished every prince and wise man in all of Europe by means of her paintings, which are all portraits, so life like they seem to conform to nature itself. She was an internationally respected Renaissance portrait and genre artist. She demonstrated the development of realistic domestic scenarios, and original studies that did not emulate the concepts of contemporary male painters. We all thank her for her extraordinary work of a lifetime, and we all respect and honor her life as a renowned Renaissance artist.


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  • By: Brooke N.
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