Sofonisba Anguissola
Italian Renaissance painter



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Sofonisba Anguissola
Italian Renaissance painter
Average: 5 (3 votes)

Birth Date


Death Date

November 16, 1625

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Sofonisba Anguissola made it farther in the art world than any woman had before her. Yay for feminist anomalies in the Renaissance Era!

Born in 1535-ish in Cremona, Italy, Sofonisba was the daughter of Amilcare Anguissola, a man who actually taught his six daughters something other than table manners and passiveness. He taught them to paint and Sofonisba was by far the best of her siblings. She was so talented in fact that Amilcare sent his daughter’s paintings to Pope Julius III and they somehow got into the hands of the legendary Michelangelo. He loved her work depicting a girl laughing, but then challenged her to paint the opposite emotion. Sofonisba replied by depicting a boy whose finger was pinched by a crawfish, a painting which Michelangelo applauded. He unofficially took her on as a student. He couldn’t officially do so because though she was talented, she was still a woman. Her education was supposed to be about being a better wife and mother. Classic patriarchal agenda getting in the way of women’s lives…

Sofonisba still milked her talent for all it could give her and ended up as a lady-in-waiting to the new queen of the Spanish court, Elisabeth of Valois who was 14 and an aspiring painter. Sofonisba and Elizabeth became BFFs and she taught her how to paint until Elizabeth’s death during childbirth 10 years later. After that the king of the Spanish Court gave her what he thought was the greatest gift ever: a husband. Sofonisba was like, “Gee thx” and got married. Her husband died eight years later and two years after that, she fell in love with a sea captain. There were no other fish in the sea for them and they stayed together until Sofonisba’s death in 1625.

Though she was incredibly popular at the time, and even counselled young Anthony van Dyck, it wasn’t until the 1970s, when feminist art historians were going back and giving credit to women who had been swept under the rug by the patriarchal broom, that Sofonisba was recognized as a great Renaissance painter. It only took, like, 350 years but better late than never, right?




  1. Morris, Roderick. "Acknowledging, Finally, The Work Of Women Artists." N.p., 2008. Web. 11 July 2017.