fourth quarter of the 18th century
The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Lavinia Fontana was baptized on this day in 1552 in Bologna. Women were typically excluded from artistic training in the Renaissance, but Lavinia was able to learn from her father, the Bolognese Mannerist Prospero Fontana (d. 1597). She began her career in Bologna painting small devotional works and portraits. She also painted history paintings, like her acclaimed Noli me tangere, now in the Uffizi. She ended her career in Rome, where she received important commissions to provide altar decorations for the churches of S. Paolo fuori le mura and S. Maria della Pace. Lavinia has the largest oeuvre of any woman prior to 1700, an accomplishment even more impressive considering she had eleven children.
In addition to self-portraits, Lavinia was asked to paint the portraits of noble men, women, and children. Among the most notable are two portraits of the young Antonietta Gonzalez, daughter of Pedro Gonzalez otherwise known as “the hairy man from Munich.” Gonzalez and his offspring are believed to be the first documented cases of Ambras Syndrome, which causes hair to grow on the face and body after birth. They were famous within noble circles as natural wonders, considered to be more animal than human. While cruel and unusual by today’s standards, the treatment of the Gonzalez family as gifts for royals allowed them to have some prestige and material comforts rather than being shunned and isolated.
Reference: “Fontana (ii): (2) Lavinia Fontana.” Grove Art Online. Oxford Art Online. Oxford University Press. http://www.oxfordartonline.com/
Further reading: Lavinia Fontana: A Painter and Her Patrons in Sixteenth-century Bologna by Caroline P. Murphy (2003); and Invisible Women. Forgotten Artists of Florence (English and Italian Edition) by Jane Fortune (2009).
Self-Portrait in a Studio, 1579, oil on copper, Florence, Galleria degli Uffizi.
Portrait of Ginevra Aldrovandi Hercolani as Widow, ca. 1595, oil on canvas, Baltimore, Walters Art Gallery
Portrait of a Notary, 1583, oil on canvas, Private Collection
Head of a Young Man, 1606, oil on canvas, Rome, Galleria Borghese; photo credit: Scala/Art Resource, NY
Judith with the Head of Holofernes, 1600, oil on canvas, Bologna, Museo Davia Bargellini
Noli me tangere (Jesus Appears to Mary Magdalene), 1581, oil on canvas, Florence, Galleria degli Uffizi
Portrait of a Newborn in a Cradle, c. 1583, oil on canvas, Bologna, Pinacoteca Nazionale
Portrait of Antonietta Gonzalez, c. 1595, oil on canvas, Blois, Musée du Château
Portrait of Antonietta Gonzalez, 1594-95, red and black pencil, brown ink on paper, New York: The Morgan Library and Museum
Peter Paul Rubens
Top- Descent from the Cross altarpiece (closed): Saint Christopher (left) and a hermit (right)
Left middle- Descent from the Cross altarpiece (left panel): the Visitation
Right middle- Descent from the Cross altarpiece (right panel): Presentation in the Temple
Bottom- Descent from the Cross altarpiece (central panel)
Oil on wood
Cathedral of Our Lady in Antwerp
Oil on canvas
Philadelphia Museum of Art
The Library of Thorvald Boeck (1902). Harriet Backer (Norwegian, 1845-1932). Oil on canvas. National Gallery, Oslo, Norway.
Olaf Thorvald Boeck (1835-1901) was a Norwegian lawyer, civil servant and book collector. His library was known for its time as the largest private library in Norway. Backer’s painting incorporates only one part of the library.
Mariam “Al-Astrolabiya” Al-Ijliya: Why she kicks ass
- She lived in the tenth century in Aleppo, Syria and was a famous scientist who designed and constructed astrolabes.
- Astrolabes were global positioning instruments that determine the position of the sun and planets, so they were used in the fields of astronomy, astrology and horoscopes. They were also used to tell time and for navigation by finding location by latitude and longitude. They were also used to find the Qibla, prayer times, and determine starting days for Ramadan and Eid.
- Mariam Al-Ijliya came from a family of engineers and manufacturers, like her father and many engineers, she was a student of a certain Bitolus, who was a well known manufacturer of astrolabes in Baghdad and she in turn became his student. Her hand-crafted designs were so intricate and innovative that she was employed by the ruler of the city, Sayf Al Dawla, from 944 AD until 967 AD.
SHOUT OUT TO THE Assyrians GUARDING THEIR CHURCHES IN QARAQOSH
[Mauritshuis, The Hague - Oil on panel, 39 x 29.5 cm]