The Lively Art of Sofonisba Anguissola

The Lively Art of Sofonisba Anguissola

Sofonisba Anguissola
 Sofonisba Anguissola is an artist who embraced the essence of the Late Renaissance which is simply the era of the rebirth of art and culture in the West. She used the limits she had as a woman in the field of art and in society in general to be able to find and master her style of creating realistic but beautiful scenes, portraits, and self portraits.


Important Facts

  • One of the first major female artists of the Renaissance
  • She was born in 1535, Cremona, Italy
  • She died on November 16, 1625, Palermo, Italy
  • She married Fabrizio Moncada from 1571-1579 before he died, and Orazio Lomellino from 1584-1625 until Sofonisba died.
  • Her art career spanned through the times of Mannerism (Late Renaissance). Mannerism was a prominent style in Europe from 1530 until around the end of the 1500’s. Mannerism is simply a rejection of emphasized balance and ideal proportions to create beauty.


Sofonisba Anguissola’s Art

Anguissola’s style in which she created her art was quite distinct from other artists in the Renaissance. Due to the fact that it was unacceptable for women to view nudes in Italy during the times of the Renaissance, she couldn’t study things like anatomy.

This stopped her from creating the multi-figure compositions necessary to make numerous vivid historical and religious works.

Anguissola nevertheless was able to build on the arts of her time by honing her talent in portraits. Numerous of these works subtly had undertones against the notion of women being passive objects. Her works displayed their talent and active roles in the art.


The Chess Game

 One of Anguissola’s most renowned works, The Game of Chess , is a prime example of the artist diverging from her society’s status-quo, especially from some expectations of men and women at the time of the Renaissance.

This interactive conversation piece is a close-up depiction of a typical family setting, blending ornate formal dress with very casual facial expressions, which was unique for Italian painting at the period.

 Also, The Game of Chess pioneered a new type of genre painting in which her sisters are depicted in a domestic context rather than the formal or allegorical settings typical at the time.

 The Game of Chess was especially important on an intellectual level due to its implicit messaging just through the image alone. This group of people in the painting, which were all women, were engaging in chess. In the time of the Renaissance in Italian society, chess was considered a game for men.

 The idea of logic and strategy was something that wasn’t connected to women. The hidden messages in this work revealed by recognizing the context celebrates the talents of women.

 This style of art embraces the characteristics of Mannerism. Mannerism sought to create beauty by using illogical surroundings, artificial hues, ambiguous subjects, and extended shapes.


This embrace of the artistic style of her time gave her the leeway to depict the virtues of women engaging in something irregular for their times. 

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