Artist Stories

My name is Sofonisba And I’m Michelangelo’s Gal

Magda Michalska 7 September 2016 min Read

And I don’t mean it as a mistress, no, no, I’m a respectable girl who comes from a little poor but still a noble family of Cremona. When I travelled to Rome, I was introduced to Michelangelo and he saw a great talent in me straightaway. I know I shouldn’t talk about it too much because modest girls don’t brag, but I somehow have to make a name as a professional painter.

My world my crayons

SSofonisba Anguissola, Self-Portrait, 1556, Łańcut Museum
Sofonisba Anguissola, Self-Portrait, 1556, Łańcut Museum

Michelangelo might have put a word for me to the queen of Spain, though he would never admit that. Anyway, she just loved my painting and asked me to tutor her a little. Not only was I one of the first girls to apprentice in professional workshops, but now I’m going to be a master myself! I’m going to travel even farther from home to stay at the Spanish court. I’m sure I’ll miss my little sisters but I can’t stop to paint!

My lovely sisters and my dear nanny

Sofonisba ANguissola, Lucia, Minerva and Europa Anguissola Playing Chess, 1555, National Museum, Poznań
Sofonisba Anguissola, Lucia, Minerva and Europa Anguissola Playing Chess, 1555, National Museum, Poznań

I was admitted as a painter to the king, it’s quite an honour. Moreover, king Philip promised to find me an aristocratic husband, hi hi. I paint mostly royal portraits, but it’s fun, I like observing people and ornate clothes. Life at court is never boring, so many balls, feasts and hunts!

Sofonisba Anguissola, Self-Portrait, 1610
Sofonisba Anguissola, Self-Portrait, 1610, Gottfried Keller Collection, Bern

I’m not a young gal anymore but my life is still good despite some issues with my eyes- I can’t see as well as before. I have had two loving husbands and I managed to save a small fortune thanks to quite a few commissions for my works. Last week I met this young Flemish artist, Anthony Van Dyck, who really wanted to paint my portrait. He’s a promising boy and I don’t even look that old on his portrait, although I’m already 92.

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