Sofonisba Anguissola: Renaissance Painter Extraordinaire

At the National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington, D.C., a ground-breaking exhibition has retrieved a life of true genius

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.

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