Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Bia and Sofonisba

At 3:30 a.m. this morning, I finally finished choosing, printing, framing and labeling 48 digital collages for a display at Fanzorelli’s. Strangely enough, the hardest part of the job was dealing with fingerprints. When there’s an upfront display of them on the wrong side of the glass, you have no choice but to de-frame the picture and start over all over again. Looking at my work today, I decided I’m basically happy with most of my collages, although the one of Bia and Sofonisba is definitely my favourite.
Bia was the illegitimate daughter of Cosimo de’Medici, and she died at the age of five – shortly after Bronzino did this portrait of her. I’ve always wondered what Bia’s life would have been like if she’d lived. Would she have been a political pawn and married off to an ally of the Medicis? Probably. But I like to think Bia might have become a painter like her contemporary, Sofonisba Anguissola.
A popular Renaissance painter who lived until she was almost a hundred, Sofonisba and her sisters – Elena, Lucia, Europa, Anna Maria and Minerva (whew!) – all had artistic talent. It was Sofonisba, though, who found fame and fortune.
While most women painters in the Renaissance (not that there were many of them) learned the craft from their fathers, Sofonisba’s father was a nobleman and her biggest fan. He made sure she studied with accomplished male painters, and even wrote a letter to Michelangelo raving about his daughter’s talent. Michelangelo sent him a drawing for Sofonisba to copy, and was impressed with her talent when he received it back. This just goes to show you what a supportive parent can do for an artist.

No comments: