|Self Portrait by Elisabetta Sirani, 1660, Italy|
"Elisabetta Sirani (1638-1665) was born in Bologna. By age 17 she was a full-fledged engraver and painter and had completed over ninety works. By the time she died at the young age of 27, she had added at least eighty more to her repertoire. Besides being an independent painter by the age of 19, Elisabetta Sirani also ran her family's workshop. When her father became incapacitated by gout, she was burdened with having to support her parents, her siblings and herself, entirely through her art. The stress created by such heavy responsibilities may have been the cause of her early death. It is estimated that in all she produced some 200 paintings, drawings, and etchings. She painted themes such as the Virgin and Child, self portraits, and many more.
"Elisabetta Sirani used dramatic light and great movement in her work, which classified it in the Baroque style. She painted many of her larger scale and heavy-themed works publicly and in front of large (and adoring) crowds of on-lookers. Sirani's portraits, mythological subjects, and especially her images of the Holy Family and the Virgin and Child, gained international fame."
"Because the style in which she worked has long been out of fashion, Sirani recieved little critical attention in the last century. But the ostentatiousness of her funeral indicates how highly she was esteemed by her contemporaries. Bologna's most prominent citizens eulogized her, and a local artist designed an enormous domed catafalque, representing the Temple of Fame, which was dominated by a life-size statue of Sirani seated at her easel. In her brief twenty-seven years, Sirani became one of the select number of women artists who enjoyed international celebrity, along with Anguissola, Teerlinc, and Fontana."
Self Portrait by Elisabetta Sirani
chalk on paper, ca. 1660
"Unlike the paintings of her near contemporary Artemisia Gentileschi, which often subvert traditonal notions of feminity, Sirani's works do not challenge the male symbolic order, a factor that undoubtedly contributed considerably to her popularity and critical success. Interpreting established artistic models and iconographic traditons in a more personal and intimate manner, she executed mythological works, allegorical scenes and vanitas, portraits and large-scale history paintings, both religious and classical."