The Unexpected Self-Portrait by Sofonisba Anguissola

A woman artist of the 1500s that redefined Italian Renaissance

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Sofonisba Anguissola, "Self-Portrait" (1556). Wikimedia Commons.

What type of life did Sofonisba Anguissola have?

Sofonisba was the eldest of six sisters and one brother from a well-educated family of the city of Cremona, in Italy. She and three of her sisters — Lucia, Europa, and Anna Maria — became painters, but only Sofonisba achieved fame and fortune. She was even responsible for sustaining her father after he lost his fortune, and, later, her own younger brother, Asdrubale.

Intimacy delight: “The Chess Game”

The Chess Game (1555) is considered one of Anguissola’s masterpiece. It depicts three of her sisters playing chess — Lucia, Europa, and Minerva — supervised by their nurse. Lucia just won the game, and is still with the hand on the board. Europa lifted her hand like in protest for her lost, and the young Minerva laughs playfully of the sister’s defeated gesture.

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Sofonisba Anguissola, "The Chess Game" (1555). Wikimedia Commons.

(she/her/ela) Art and dress historian, writer and teacher based in Berlin.

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