cover image Sofonisba Anguissola

Sofonisba Anguissola

Rizzoli, Ilya Sandra Perlingieri, Illya Sandra Perlingieri. Rizzoli International Publications, $50 (223pp) ISBN 978-0-8478-1544-9

Refuting the Renaissance-era belief that women lacked creativity and intelligence, Italian Sofonisba Anguissola (1532-1625) became a first-rate painter hailed by Vasari, Michelangelo and Van Dyck. This profusely illustrated biographical-critical study (122 plates, 40 in color) profiles a woman of tenacious spirit who found subtle ways to circumvent the staid formal requirements of Spanish portraiture at the court of King Philip II, where she was painter-in-residence for 20 years. Perlingieri, an art historian at San Diego State University, restores Anguissola to her rightful place in art history, making us see the psychological complexity of her family scenes, genre paintings and religious works. Most striking are the haunting, sensitive self-portraits in which the artist, born to a supportive aristocratic family, proclaims her independence and lays bare her soul. (June)