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Women Artists

The lives and works of creative women


The bust of a woman


RCIN 990603

Unlike most Renaissance female artists, Sofonisba Anguissola was not a painter’s daughter. Her artistic training was part of the broader humanistic education she and her five sisters, also all painters, received as young noblewomen.

Anguissola’s artistic skill and reputation led to Phillip II inviting her to Spain, where she became the queen’s lady-in-waiting and tutor in drawing and painting for over a decade. A talented portraitist, she painted most members of the Spanish royal family. None of these portraits, however, are signed, perhaps reflecting the slightly ambiguous status Anguissola held at court.

Anguissola’s accepted body of work is small. This drawing, attributed to her, is similar in format to the many small self-portraits in bust- or half-length that she produced early in her career, though the features of the sitter here do not match those of the artist.

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