Artist profile: Sofonisba Anguissola – Self portraits

Every month, I profile an artist who inspires my own art, in several segments.

Sofonisba Anguissola painted quite a few portraits of herself during her lifetime. Self portraits are valuable because not only do they allow us to know what an artist looked like, they give us a glimpse at how the artists view themselves.
Self-portrait with Bernardino_Campi
Self-portrait with Bernardino Campi (1550)
Bernadino Campi was her first teacher. This is an interesting portrayal, in that it doesn’t really look like a self portrait, because it seems that Campi is the artist, even though he’s not. She also seems to have really wide-set eyes here.
Self portrait with book
Self-portrait with book (1554)
Her eyes seem a little too big here, but in later portraits she does seem to have somewhat large eyes. I think it says her name in the book, which is cool – I always love those details. Overall, this portrait is stylized compared to the following painting, in which she wears the exact same clothing and hairstyle.
Self portrait at easel
Self-portrait at the Easel (1556)
This is probably Anguissola’s most well-known self-portrait. Similarly to other artists, she chose to show herself at work – demonstrating through both the in-painting art and the portrait itself that she totally rocks.
Self portait in 1610
Self-portrait at age 78 (1610)
This lady was going strong when she painted this self-portrait. By this time, she’d had an illustrious career and had artists travel to meet and learn from her. She likely painted this while living at her second husband’s family’s estate in Genoa, where she had her own room and studio. She continued to paint until her eyesight became too weak, whereupon she became a patroness of the arts. This portrait was painted fifteen years before her death at the age of 93 in 1625.

What an awesome lady!

Other parts in the Sofonisba Anguissola artist profile series
Family Portraits
Other Portraits



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