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Thursday, June 22, 2017

Renaissance Gigging

Lavinia Fontana – Minerva Dressing
I don’t see as many of those silly Who would you be/Who are you quizzes. They’re either not showing up in my feed or maybe I’ve just tuned them out. After all, I’m not terribly interested in knowing the answers to:
  • What color is your love?
  • Which Disney Princess Are You Based on Your Harry Potter Preferences?
  • This Food Test Will Reveal If Your Ex Secretly Misses You
  • Put Together Your Own Box Of Crayola Crayons And We'll Guess Your Favorite Disney Princess
  • Assemble An Outfit, And We'll Tell You Which "Sex And The City" Woman You Are
I did however feel compelled to play
If You Can Make It Through This Quiz, You Might Just Survive The Apocalypse
How’d I do? You get lost and never make it to the settlement. Yeah, shocking, I know!

And then this one popped up:
What Would Your Renaissance Profession Be?
I got Painter. No surprise but is this in any way realistic? Were there any chick painters back then? This was a severely oppressive time (1300 – 1700) when women were no more than chattel, property of their husbands and fathers.

Time to fire up the Google-fu.

Catherine of Bologna
As it turns out, YES, there actually were women painters back then. There were the wealthy babes (who always have more choices than us peasants) and convent dwellers. Sometimes both, like Catherine of Bologna.

She’s the patron saint of artists and against temptations, (I ask you – what good are temptations if I have to resist them, hmmm?). Born to money she still joined a convent. Why? I imagine it was because, she could paint here, play her viola and be free (relative to the outside, tyrannical, male dominated world). 

Fontana – Selfie at the Spinet
Bologna, it seems, was a happening place for women artists. Lavinia Fontana was born here, 89 years after Catherine. She wasn’t from the big dough but her father had serious connections. He was the painter Prospero (LOVE that name!) Fontana. Daddy was buds with Michelangelo who introduced him to Pope Julius III. Popey gave him a gig as court portrait painter. Sweet.

Lavinia’s Da trained her in the Mannerist school. What is Mannerism? It’s said to involve an indulgence in the bizarre – queerly elongated limbs, small heads, funky poses and such. They don't look so bizarre to me but I'm probably missing something or I have a high threshold for bizarro-ness.

Lavinia was one of the first women to snag impressive, publicly commissioned figure paintings, including nudes. Way cool!
Fede Galizia

Did you  know? Most women during the Renaissance were not paid in cash money. Nope, they were given gifts. Ya know, flowers and candy are nice but they don't pay the damn rent...fer Bast's sake! Lavinia was different though – she got real paydays.

Fede Galizia
She ended up marrying, her choice, the minor painter Gian Paolo Zappi. He was cool and down with her being the main deal and, in fact, gave up painting, became her agent and managed their household (including 11 kiddles!). Wow!

Fede Galizia, also a Mannerist, was 22 years younger than Lavinia and from Milan, a little over 200 miles away. Her old man, Nunzio Galizia, a miniaturist, taught her how to wield a brush – she became a painter of still lifes and portraits. I can’t find much about her personal life apart from the fact that she never married. She was a big going concern though and didn’t have a man (or a convent) fronting for her. AWESOME! I wonder how she managed that, given the restrictions of the time. She must have been amazing.

If I had a time machine (I KNOW! How come none of my big-brained chums have invented this yet!?), I'd zip back and spend a day with Lavinia and Fede. I wanna know what their days were like, what they dreamt of, how they managed in such a crazy-ass world. Life tips, I want TIPS!

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