Women have played an important role in portraiture. The women depicted in this gallery range from the Early Renaissance to Baroque periods. What these portraits show the viewer is how women were viewed in society during the time the work was created and why it was important enough to capture. While some women are wives, mothers, lustful objects , or even holy figures, their depictions all intrigue the viewer. In a world ruled by men, women had little input, especially in the artistic world. Whether the women depicted here were captured by men, women, or themselves, each work was inspired by a woman. She may have held no powerful position in life, but she was chosen and seen as special enough to immortalize. This gallery’s function is to view five very different artworks depicting women, made by an arrange of artists. Though these art works are very different, each tells an important story of one woman. These stories are told through the brush strokes and through the artist’s personal style. Each work carries an emotion that invites the viewer into a deeper curiosity. Who are these women? What do they share? The evolution of women in art has grown so much since the Baroque period, but even from Early Renaissance to Baroque, the change is huge. Women became more prominent figures in art, taking on more power, more history, and more creative reign.
Portraits of the Duke and Dutchess of Urbino: Francesca was commissioned by Federico de Montefeltro to paint this portrait of his belated wife Battista Sforza. The two were married when Battista was only fourteen years old. She had eight daughters and one son. At age 26, she died of pneumonia. Federico loved Battista very much. He had this portrait commissioned as a memorial to her. Even after her death, he never was able to move on. The depiction of Battista in this portrait is quite ghostly. She is meant to be not seen as alive, but an idealized deceased version of herself. It is interesting to notice her wardrobe. She is stylized in a quite trendy, wealthy outfit. Her hairdo in particular shows that she is trendy and of a particular status because she is a countess. This is an interesting portrait in the way that it was commissioned in her memory, not to put on an image of an already existing person. It is a very romantic image of everlasting love and a unique role of women in portraiture. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XIkryXkz8a4 Portrait of Giovanna Tornabuoni: Ghirlandaio was commissioned by a wealthy Florentine to create this portrait of what is thought to be Giovanna Tornabuoni. She was a member of the powerful Albizzi family and wife of Lorenzo Tornabuoni. While this portrait was done in a traditional pose, it was far from traditional. What separated this portrait was the emotional connection between the viewer and Giovanna. This particular depiction also shows a lot of the advancements of culture in Florence at the time. This is determined by the value of careful cultivation of beauty in life and art, the breeding of courtly manners, and the great wealth behind it all. This portrait is a large stepping stone for women in the art world because Giovanna is not depicted as an emotionless stone, but a young, sensitive, beautiful woman. The viewer is invited to feel her emotion and is given room to contemplate her thoughts. This portrait is an early example of women gaining more artistic freedom. http://www.museothyssen.org/en/thyssen/ficha_obra/365
Venus of Urbino: Venus of Urbino by Titian was painted for Guidobaldo II. While the painting is meant to depict the mythological figure Venus, it takes a more wealthy, humanistic feel. Venus is portrayed in a very sensual pose. Here eyes are stationed directly at the viewer. During that time, this eye gaze given by women in art was seen as provocative and potentially inappropriate. This is a more risque female portrait, yet a sense of power is given to Venus. Her posture evokes a sense of confidence and her gaze allures the viewer to come closer and look closer at what is going on in the painting. She may have been an object to Guidobaldo, but she is separated from early female portraiture by her bold depiction. What is also interesting to note is that at this time, women were given much more freedom in art. Two female artists in particular reached an unknown level of fame for female artists and women were depicted in new, interesting ways. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qD6ct0VS15c
Portrait of Eleonora di Toledo with her son Giovanni: Eleonora di Toledo was married into the Medici family. Marrying into the Medici family meant marrying into endless money and power. This portrait was commissioned by her husband Cosimo I de' Medici. While women in paintings during this time were being portrayed differently than before, Bronzino was traditional in that he preferred to portray women emotionless and stone-like. Bronzino idealized Eleonora and her son. He gave them perfect, blemishless features, and even added a halo effect to Eleonora. This portrait can even go so far to take resemblance to Mary and the Christ Child. This portrait's function is to display the heir of the Medici. In saying that, this portrait becomes less of a mother and child than a royal audience. This portrait is a great example of an emotionless yet not meaninless portrail of a powerful and wealthy woman. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fpgvjMKCyAA Self Portrait as the Allegory of Painting: Artemisia Gentileschi is important to mention in this gallery because she was a well established, quite famous artist. While it is well known that she wasn’t paid or treated with the same respect as a male artist would, she is still remembered and highlighted for her craftsmanship. Like all female artists, Gentileschi was taught by her father, another famous artist, to paint. She became the first woman ever admitted to membership in Florence’s Accademia del Disegno. This is a self portrait of Gentileschi. To accomplish this image, she would have had to set ** a set of mirrors to be able to see herself from enough angles to get this accurately portrayed image. Around the same time this was painted, other female artists were also doing self portraits, only they depicted themselves in the best light. These other female artists are depicted in beautiful, expensive gowns, with a more expressionless, cold position. Gentileschi is wearing very normal, every day clothing and in a position of her craft, not a posed portrait. This image is an example the milestones women have made in the art world and a stepping stone on the path to where female artists are today. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YfW0v78aHXg