Sunday, August 30, 2015

1600s Woman Artist - Elisabetta Sirani 1638-1665 including Judith & Holofernes

Italian artist Elisabetta Sirani (1638–1665) died when she was 27. By that age, she had already created 200 paintings, drawings, & etchings.

Elisabetta Sirani (1638-1665) Judith with the Head of Holofernes, 1658

Sirani spent her short life in Bologna, a city famous for its progressive attitude toward women's rights & female artists.

Elisabetta Sirani (1638-1665) Judith with the Head of Holofernes

She was the daughter of artist Giovanni Andrea Sirani (1610-70), who had been Guido Reni's principal assistant.

Elisabetta Sirani (1638-1665) Judith with the Head of Holofernes

Encouraged by Carlo Malvasia, her mentor & eventual biographer, she was painting professionally by the age of 17.  Trained by her father, Sirani ran her family's art workshop by the age of 19, supporting her parents, 3 siblings, & herself. Her father could paint no longer because of gout.

Elisabetta Sirani (1638-1665) Melpomene

Sirani's portraits, mythological subjects, & biblical images gained widespread fame. Her works were acquired by wealthy, noble, & even royal patrons, including the Grand Duke Cosimo III de Medici.  She painted so fast, that it was commonly believed that she had help painting. In order to refute the charges, dignitaries from all over Europe were invited to watch her paint a portrait in one sitting.  One story about the Grand Duke Cosimo III de Medici, who visited her studio in 1664, attests to Sirani's rapid working methods. After he watched her work on a portrait of his uncle Prince Leopold, Cosimo ordered a Madonna for himself, which Sirani allegedly executed so quickly so that it could dry enough to be taken home with him!

Elisabetta Sirani (1638-1665) Personification Of Music

Sirani died-suddenly, after experiencing severe stomach pains probably caused by perforated ulcers. Sirani's funeral was an elaborate affair involving formal orations, special poetry & music, and an enormous catafalque decorated with a life-size sculpture of the deceased.

Elisabetta Sirani (1638-1665) Portrait of Beatrice Cenci 1662

Her teaching legacy included her two sisters, Barbara & Anna Maria, plus more than a dozen other young women who became professional painters in Bologna.

Elisabetta Sirani (1638-1665) The Flea

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