Historical novels frequently tell the story of a woman succeeding in the even more male-dominated societies of the past. This fictional biography of the painter Sofonisba Anguissola follows that pattern, but sometimes shows men in supportive roles as teachers or promoters. Her father, an art supply merchant belonging to the minor nobility, has the idea that being a successful artist will enhance her modest dowry and that she can pass on her skills to her younger sisters. Her mother objects to this career, because she considers painting to be an unworthy profession for anyone with noble ancestry.In spite of Sofonisba's recommendation from Michelangelo and other artists, she is denied membership in the artists' guild in her native Cremona. As her fame spreads she becomes a court painter in the Madrid of Philip II, here represented as less of an ogre than he generally is in English-language historical fiction. An appendix gives a chronology of her paintings with a list of the museums where they can be seen. This helps the reader follow her career.Romance includes a successful arranged marriage to a Sicilian relatively late in life and a subsequent second marriage to a Genoese sea captain who helps protect her widow's rights while allowing her to continue her art. Anguissola's reputation faded after her death, but a rediscovery has brought about comparisons with her contemporary, Titian. Damioli has served her cause well with this richly drawn account of a long and successful life. Recommended.- Historical Novel Society
An email has been sent out with instructions for resetting your password.