Portrait Group with the Artist’s Father Amilcare Anguissola and her siblings Minerva and Astrubale, c. 1559
Oil on canvas, 157 x 122 cm.
Sensitivity, warmth and mutual tenderness permeate this family portrait depicting the artist’s father, Amilcare, brother, Astrubale, and sister, Minerva. The family relationship is weighted higher than the figurative and formal characteristics. The white poodle has a good-natured and almost humorous expression. There were only a few female painters during the Renaissance, because the position of women in society generally made it impossible for them to work as professional artists. Sofonisba, however, received support from her father to continue her artistic practice. The painting was never finished, because King Philip II of Spain offered Sofonisba the position of court painter and she was forced to leave with very short notice. The painting is considered one of the artist’s masterpieces.Download Photo »
Sofonisba Anguissola (1532-1625)
Sofonisba mastered the portrait genre in particular, which she practiced under the influence of, among others, the Central Italian school, represented by artists such as Correggio. Meanwhile, she was also receptive towards the new realist tendencies in Lombardy. When she was young, she engaged in a written correspondence with Michelangelo, who recognised the young woman’s talent and took on the role as a long-distance teacher. Sofonisba worked at the Spanish court for twenty years and was married twice in the course of her life, but was already middle-aged by the time of her first marriage, which testifies to an extremely atypical life for a woman in that period. She founded and ran a painting school and continued painting throughout her long life. The spontaneously expressive and immediate character of a number of her portraits would later inspire artists such as Caravaggio.