In a male-dominated art world of the 16th and 17th century, women artists were not easily accepted. Yet many of them managed to make a name for themselves. After centuries of neglect, they are finally getting the attention they deserve.
Palazzo Reale in Milan will host the first major exhibition dedicated to magnificent women artists who lived between the 1500s and 1600s. Titled The Ladies of Art. Stories of women between '500 and '600, the exhibition will bring together over 150 works by 34 artists, including Artemisia Gentileschi, Sofonisba Anguissola, Lavinia Fontana, Elisabetta Sirani, Giovanna Garzoni and many others, telling incredible stories of talented and “modern” women and highlighting their works, priorities and skills.
The exhibition will rediscover the incredible lives of these artists through over 150 works, testifying to an intense creative vitality and telling exciting stories of women who were already "modern".
Curated by Anna Maria Bava, Gioia Mori and Alain Tapié, the show brings together works from 67 different lenders, including the Uffizi galleries, the Capodimonte Museum, the Brera Art Gallery, the Sforzesco Castle, the National Gallery of Umbria, the Borghese Gallery, the Royal Museums of Turin, the National Art Gallery of Bologna, the Musée des Beaux Arts in Marseille and the Muzeum Narodowe in Poznan.
In addition to examining their amazing artistic skills, The Ladies of Art will also explore the role they played in the society of the time, the success they achieved, their ability to establish themselves by transforming into real entrepreneurs, and the ability to confront their ideals and different lifestyles.
The exhibition brings together both celebrated artists and those less known to the general public. The new discoveries include the Roman nobleman Claudia del Bufalo. Some of the works will be exhibited for the first time in Milan, such as Pala della Madonna dell'Itria by Sofonisba Anguissola than never left Sicily since 1578 when it was made, the altarpiece Madonna Immacolata and San Francesco Borgia from 1663 by Rosalia Novelli which leaves Palermo for the first time and Mystical Marriage of Saint Catherine from 1576 by Lucrezia Quistelli which is houses at the parish church of Silvano Pietra near Pavia.
The exhibition brings together several works by Artemisia Gentileschi, an artist who gained fame and admiration across Europe, counting leading rulers among her patrons; works by Sofonisba Anguissola, such as the Chess Game from 1555 and the aforementioned Altarpiece of the Madonna dell'Itria; 14 works by Lavinia Fontana, including the Self-portrait in the studio from 1579 of the Uffizi, the Consecration to the Virgin from 1599 and some paintings of mythological subjects of rare sensuality; powerful canvases by the Bolognese painter Elisabetta Sirani, including Portia who injures herself in the fight from 1664 and in Timoclea killing the captain Alexander the Great from 1659; works by Ginevra Cantofoli, such as The young woman in an oriental dress, the second half of the 17th century; works by Galician Faith, including Judith with the head of Holofernes from 1596; and are and precious parchments by Giovanna Garzoni.
The exhibition The Ladies of Art. Stories of women between '500 and '600 will be on view at Palazzo Reale in Milan from February 5th until June 6th, 2021.
Featured image: Fede Galizia - Judith with the head of Holofernes (detail), 1601. Oil on canvas, 123 x 92 cm. Ministero per i Beni e le Attività culturali – Galleria Borghese.