Encouraged by her singularly enlightened father, Sofonisba Anguissola (c. 1535-1625) was educated as a painter when the well-born young women of Renaissance Italy were consigned to sit in their palazzos and pursue needle work. Her accomplishments led to a life of drama and romance on a grand scale. She became a celebrated portrait painter at the court of Philip II of Spain.
A grand love story unfolds, too, as she overcame many obstacles to win her beloved husband. She lived to a hearty old age, an international celebrity who had been praised by Michelangelo and lionized by painters across Europe.