I was born in the year 1532, in Cremona a region in the Northern partof Italy. I consider myself lucky because I was born into a noblefamily. My father Amilcare Anguissola and my mother Bianca Ponzonewere both from noble families. Nevertheless, despite the socialstatus, we were poor. We were ranked as part of the lower nobleclass. I must confess that my family experienced a share of happinessand misfortunes. Death took away all my sisters as I watched. Elenadied in 1584, Anna Maria followed in the next year in 1585 and Luciadied in 1566 (Gaze 157). Losing my sisters was difficult,nonetheless, I later realized that everything happens for a purpose.Life can sometimes be cruel, but it is imperative to rise above eachmisfortune.
An interesting aspect about all my sisters including myself was thatwe were all artists. I believe that we developed the talent becauseof my father who supported us in our artistic ventures. I remember inmy teenage years, I could come up with a new painting each week andmy father would keenly observe my work. He would congratulate me, andtell me work on much more. He also ensured that were are educated.Joining Lombard art school was actually an empowering experiencebecause I learned so much from Bernardino Campi one of the mostfamous painters (Gaze 157). My achievements today were nurtured by myfather.
WhatIt Means To Be a Female Artist at This Time
Asa female artist, I feel that we are living in most difficult times.Indeed, it is the Renaissance, when the rebirth of knowledge hastaken place. I therefore reckon that the new ideas and ways ofthinking should revolutionize the minds of the people essentially ourmen. However, most of them are still cocooned in ancient traditionsthat associate a women to the kitchen. Women are not allowed to geteven the most rudimentary education that can assist them to naturetheir artistic capabilities. For instance, we are not permitted toview any nude artworks, based on the fact that it is consideredinappropriate (Bruninghaus 3). Such restrictions cannot help thewomenfolk to build their imaginative skills. In essence, withoutlearning resources a women cannot be an artist. I, however, thank myfather because he gave me the opportunity to study and to ventureinto the world art without any restrictions.
Today,the artistic world is only considered to be a man’s world. Greatthinkers such as Aristotle even make it worse for us. I respect theman. However, when he says that art is about creating and it is thesole occupation of a man, and that crafting something should not be awoman’s duty, then I get disappointed. Aristotle in the Poeticsequates women to slaves and associated art to patriarchy (Elkins,153). He, however, acknowledges that artists know more thanhistorians because they mimic the real universal representations. Ibelieve that I will be the first women to show that indeed artisticwomen are also better than historians.
Beinga female artist during this age is mired by challenges. In the eventthat a woman insists that she is passionate about art and wants tofollow her dreams, restrictions are applied. For example, they saythat a woman should not come up with paintings that display figures. In addition, the manner in which one uses the paint and the brush isdirected by a man’s view point. I feel that this is oppressive. Ibelieve that I can change this perspective, as a result, I will workhard and I will undertake areas of painting that no woman has donebefore. As it is said ‘’ the most forbidden fruit is thesweetest.’’
Mostmen tell be that I am good at working on the farm or taking care ofmy family. But to be honest, I contend this interpretations. Despitetheir views, I must express myself through my paintings. I feel thatI am isolated, but I am convinced that this is the path that I musttake.
Idecided to work on paintings that display self- portraits. My firstportrait is that of ClavichordwhichI produced in 1556. I painted myself which to me shows how realisticI can be. Figure 1.0 is a tight angled portrait which displays bothhands that are engaged on the instrument. It extends of the canvas tothe left. I produced my second portrait of GiovanniPaola Lomazzo(1568). The work involved hefty stuff that was suspended between theleft soldier and the picture plane (Bohn and Saslow p23). I wanted todisplay some level of aggressiveness with the brush. Over the years,I have painted several family portraits, for instance, my mother’sportrait which I admire each day.
Figure1.0 A portrait of Myself
Figure2.0 My Mother’s Portrait (1557)
MyTime at the Spanish Courts
Iam delighted that my work has been acknowledged to the extent that Igot an opportunity to work at the Spanish Courts. I believe thesaying that ‘’dreams are valid’’. However, we have to worktowards them. If I did not work hard to achieve my goals, then myaspirations would just be imaginings. Working at the Spanish courtswas indeed amazing. Nonetheless, challenges existed. For instance,there is a court official who thought that my presence as a courtportraitist was not necessary. He admired my work, but he thoughtthat a man can do a better job. At times, I felt that there was aneed to look for more challenging experiences. I had the desire toget my works to far lands. I felt that I should quit my job andtraverse the world. This would advance my imaginative skills.However, I still loved working on self-portraits (Gaze 56).
Mymost fascinating work was when in 1556 when I become a courtportraitist to Phillip 11 of Spain. I created the image of a virginand a child. I just wanted to display the beauty of a woman and howcapable she is despite of the challenges that we often face. I wasalso able to produce his portrait (Figure 3.0).
Figure3.0 Phillip 11 of Spain
WhyI ventured into Self- Portraits
Imust confess that self- portraits are distinctive and intriguing.This is because they imitate an individual’s personality. It can bechallenging to talk about the personality of a person. However,through portraits, I discovered that you can provide an insight aboutwho the person really is. One can read right through the person usingthis form of art. When I painted my mother for instance, I was ableto show the love and care through her eyes. Furthermore, Idemonstrated just how care-free she usually is. When Phillip 11 ofSpain, saw his portrait for the first time, his first statement was‘’ You have just displayed just how calm I can be.’’ Ibelieve it is fascinating to show people who they really are throughthe use of portraits.
Self-portraitsalso confirm that women can venture into the professional world justlike their male counterparts. During the Sixteenth- century, womenseem to have taken a lead in representing themselves in easels: wherethe men would make portraits of them. Italy is characterized by menwho see themselves as gentlemen, yet they have no indication ofprofessionalism. Women on the other hand, sit back and celebrate themale craft. In my perspective, I believe that women can also producecreative works than their male counterparts. Consequently, I venturedin the creation of portraits in order to show that we also can beprofessionals.
Ialso like the artistic nature of self- portraits. I perceive them asvery mystical. I believe that inside the personality of everyindividual, unknown attributes can be unveiled. As a result, Ibelieve that portraits are the most prolific woks that can be used todisclose the nature of humans. When one keenly examines a portrait,it is possible to appreciate the concealed clues or qualities thatthe artist has provided. In most of my woks I strive to reveal thehidden impressions that exist in an individual’s personality.
A self- portrait also enables me to explore my own self as an artist.My first work was an image of myself. I wanted to reflect on mypersonality in order to disclose issues that I do not know aboutmyself. This acts as a way of enhancing creativity. I believe that itis essential for artists to undertake a process of self-reflection. Before one explores the world, it is important to explore your owninner and outer image. If you understand yourself, you can understandothers (Cheney 8). In my opinion, self-portraits provide a goodplatform of self-evaluation
My intention of venturing in self-portrait is not influenced by thefeminist ideology. However, I believe that it is time to give thewoman a chance. It is important to eliminate male hegemony in thearea art. I protest the view that only men can produce the bestportraits. As noted earlier, I contended the views of great thinkerssuch as Aristotle that women are not creative. I believe that it istime to give the woman a chance. My artistic works therefore showthat talent is for all, whether male or female.
Tothe Female Artist
Foremost,I would like to state that all dreams can be achieved. Constrainsthat exist in our society should not deter you from your vision. WhenI produced my first portrait not everyone was supportive. However, Ichose to fight on. Despite the challenges that you may encounter, itis important to keep working. There comes a time when someone willacknowledge your work. If not now, in the coming future.
Ialso believe that women can use art to express how they feel aboutissues that affect us in society. It is therefore imperative toexplore various genres of art that can act as a spoken word for thefemale gender.
Bohn,Babette and Saslow James. ACompanion to Renaissance and Baroque Art.John Wiley & Sons, 2012. Print.
Bruninghaus,E. Rebelsof the Renaissance.Kunst. Print. 2014. Print.
Cheney,Liana De Girolami. Concealmentsand Revelations in the Self-Portraits of Female Painters. University of Massachusetts Lowell. 2011. Print.
Elkins,J. WhatDo Artists Know? PennState Press. 2012. Print.
Gaze,Delia. ConciseDictionary of Women Artists.Routledge. 2013. Print.