In the beginning of the sixteenth century the women weren’t very educated and their only purpose in life was to be a good mother and wife. It was believed that women lacked enough imagination and originality to make something remarkable. Because of that even if women had a lot of talent there was no point in pursuing a career in that field. Women were also not allowed to go to a university so the only way to be an artist women had to join a convent or if they were lucky enough could study with their father. Also it was considered taboo for women to draw nudes or religious or historical events.
Female artists of the Renaissance
Even though it wasn’t appropriate for women to make art there were some big names that should be mentioned. One of them was Sofonisba Anguissola. Her exact date of birth is unknown but it is thought to be somewhere around 1535. She was born into a noble family and three of her sister were also active in art. She worked as a painter in the Spanish court from 1559 to 1573. (Chadwick 1996: 78-79)
Anguissola made painting appropriate for women. The criticism towards her work has been different as some have compared her to Titan whereas others have placed her below the mark. Even though she is believed to be the only female artist of her time who was able to give life to the picture. She was an important figure in the sixteenth century Italian and Spanish portrait panting and she has influenced the Italian self portrait painting. Ann Sutherland Harris has stated that she has made more self portraits than any other artist between Dürer and Rembrandt and that the variety of her portraits is unique. (Chadwick 1996: 77-78)
One of the most famous paintings by Anguissola is “Bernardino Campi painting Sofonisba Anguissola” - a self portrait where Anguissola portrays herself being painted by someone else. The picture shows how she saw herself in the world of artists. She was aware of what she had accomplished as a female artist. The...