Italian female painters of old form new U.S. show

It has been almost two decades since the first female artist to be represented in an art show at the U.S. embassy was exhibited by her husband, but now a new exhibition of Italian women painters offers a timely take on this history-making moment that is still relevant today.

The “female artists names” is a new show that has come to the United States. The show includes paintings of Italian female painters from old times.


Netflix isn’t going to teach you how to appreciate art. A BuzzFeed article on the media service’s quick replay function, which allows you to revisit your favorite parts from famous TV programs, is also a good method to approach painting, according to a BuzzFeed report.

Checking your background

Not every Old Master picture is excellent, but many are. For example, I’m not sure what the importance of Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa picture is, but the velvet-fogged mountain landscape in the backdrop, which seems to be breathed rather than painted, is unsettling.

It’s not uncommon to cherry-pick memorable elements from any of the arts.

When it comes to, say, a song or a poem’s repetition, we do it all the time. Applying this technique to an easily missed artwork by Sofonisba Anguissola in an all-female exhibition at the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum featuring Artemesia Gentileschi is a show in and of itself.

Much is made of Gentileschi’s work in review after review of this exhibition of Italian female painters at the Wadsworth. While this is commendable, the backdrop of a self-portrait by Sofonisba Anguissola is also worthy of mention.

It’s in the eyes.

At first glance, you see the artist at her easel, but she is staring at you, as if she has stopped painting to see why you have disturbed her. She has no emotion on her face, as if to say, “I’m not the focus of this image,” as if to draw your attention away from her and onto the painting she’s working on.

And you’re grateful for the hint because it’s a knockout.

What you see is a painting of Mary and Child, which is a frequent subject among Old Masters, but is elevated by their intense focus on one other. I’m going to take a break here to ask you a question.

How many times have you seen someone with such a set expression in your life?

In a self-absorbed society, fleeting glances and passing glances are the norm. When it comes to a newborn’s capacity to recognize his mother’s face for the first time when she feeds him, it’s a different sort of engrossed gaze.

I’m seeing my own children as babies. When I came into sight, the way they examined me stole my breath away.

It’s odd that the single look is absent from most Renaissance paintings of Mary and Child.

Anguissola’s painting is also notable for the intensity with which she captured the infant’s gaze on such a tiny scale.

The human factor

This is surprising since Renaissance Marys engage with their children, while Medieval Marys are rigid and flat, holding their babies like sports trophies. Even yet, artists generally refrain from depicting the baby focusing his attention on his mother.

Consider Domenico Puligo’s painting “The Virgin and Child with St. Benignus and St. Placidus,” which depicts a normal baby wriggling in his mother’s arms and his mother clutching his legs to prevent him from falling.

Even if you locate an Old Master who notices the infant’s devotion to his mother, it isn’t the type Anguissola described. Gaudenzio Ferrari’s “Holy Family with a Donor,” for example, depicts a mother and kid gazing attentively at one another, but they’re not together, so the passion in their shared glances is lost.

Perhaps Anguissola was able to portray that silent interaction between mother and child because she had seen it. Perhaps Old Master painters didn’t care since they were men.


The “artemisia gentileschi national gallery” is a new show featuring Italian female painters from the past. The paintings are on display at the National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C.

Related Tags

  • female painters 21st century
  • female artists painters
  • female artists 2020