The Lively Art Style of Sofonisba Anguissola, a Renaissance Painter

The Lively Art Style of Sofonisba Anguissola, a Renaissance Painter

Sofonisba Anguissola
Sofonisba Anguissola is an artist who embraced the essence of the Late Renaissance, the era of the rebirth of art and culture in the Western world.

She used the limits she had as a woman in the field of art and society, in general, to be able to find and master her style of creating realistic but beautiful scenes, portraits, and self-portraits.

Important Facts


  • She was born in 1535 in Cremona, Italy.
  • She died on November 16, 1625, in 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 the end of the 1500s. Mannerism rejects emphasized balance and ideal proportions to create beauty, which paved the way for contemporary art.
  • She was one of the first major female artists of the Renaissance. 



    Sofonisba Anguissola’s Art


    Anguissola’s style in which she created her art was quite distinct from other artists in the Renaissance.


    Since it was unacceptable for women to view nudes in Italy during the times of the Renaissance, she couldn’t study things like anatomy.

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

    Nevertheless, she built on the arts of her time by honing her talent in portraits. Numerous of these works subtly had undertones against women being passive and objectified. Her works displayed their talent and active roles in the art.





    The Chess Game





    One of Anguissola’s most highly regarded 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 during the Renaissance.

    This interactive conversation piece is a close-up depiction of a typical family setting, blending luxuriant, formal dress with 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 in a domestic context rather than the formal or allegorical settings typical at the time.

    The Game of Chess was significant on an intellectual level due to its implicit messaging just through the image alone. This group of people in the painting, all women, were playing chess. During the Renaissance period in Italian society, chess was considered a game for men.

    The idea of logic and strategy was not associated with women. The hidden messages in this work celebrate the talents of women.

    This style of art embraces the characteristics of Mannerism. Mannerism sought to create beauty 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.


    Back to blog