Artwork Title: Bernardino Campi Painting Sofonisba Anguissola

Bernardino Campi Painting Sofonisba Anguissola, 1559

Sofonisba Anguissola

The 16th century painter Sofonisba Auguissola did a painting of another artist, her tutor, Bernardino Campi, painting her own image; so this is a self-image created via the mediation of another painter, who being her mentor, immediately raises questions about lineage, influence, and not forgetting gender as well. It is a striking image, and Sophisba may be perpetrating an elaborate joke, which is lost upon us. As Germaine Greer has observed, the head of Campi is “subtly expressive, in her own best manner”, while Sophonisba’s features are blank and “moon-faced”, (The Obstacle Race, 181). Sofonisba shows herself as vague, un-idealized, sketchily conceived, and her master in fine detail, though it also her hand that has rendered this face. This is very amusing, although we’re not privy to the actual meaning of the joke. Or does Anguissola have a more serious intention? Is the female artist, probably under cultural pressure, playing down her ability as an artist in a self-deprecating way? Compare Sophonisba’s visual scherzo with this less schematic, less humorous self-image []. (
Uploaded on Oct 14, 2017 by Suzan Hamer

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