The Artist's Sister Minerva Anguissola

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Sofonisba Anguissola (Italian, 1532–1625)
The Artist's Sister Minerva Anguissola, ca. 1564
Oil on canvas
33 1/2 × 26 in. (85.09 × 66.04 cm)
Layton Art Collection, Inc., Gift of the family of Mrs. Frederick Vogel Jr. L1952.1
Photo credit: John R. Glembin
Currently on View

Encouraged by Michelangelo and Giorgio Vasari, Sofonisba Anguissola became the first woman artist of the Renaissance internationally known for her portraits, serving as court painter to Philip II, King of Spain, for over a decade. In family portraits such as this likeness of her sister, the artist was able to depart from formal conventions in favor of a more intimate naturalism. Probably done as a remembrance of Minerva, who died in 1564 it was once thought to be a self-portrait. However, drawings sent to the artist to describe her adult sister’s appearance along with the sitter’s ornamental medallion depicting Minerva, the goddess of wisdom, and her namesake, clearly establish the subject’s identity. The style is a blend of elegant Italian Mannerism and the warmer, more naturalistic painterliness of North Italian and Spanish painting

Publication History
Adams, Laurie. Italian Renaissance Art. Boulder, Colo: Westview Press, 2014, fig. 17.17, color illus. p. 378. Eastberg, John C. and Eric Vogel. Layton’s Legacy: A Historic American Art Collection 1888 – 2013. Milwaukee, Wisconsin: Layton Art Collection, Inc., 2013, p. 302-5, color pl. 25, p. 304, color illus. p. 231, color detail p. 302, 305. Sawinski, Catherine. Mythology at the Milwaukee Art Museum--Part 1. Entry posted August 17, 2012. http://blog.mam.org/2012/08/17/mythology-at-the-milwaukee-art-museum-part-1/ (accessed October 28, 2014). Adams, Laurie. A History of Western Art. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2010, p.309, color pl. 17.4. Adams, Laurie Schneider. Art Across Time. Vol. 2. 4th ed. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2008, p. 572, color pl. 15.8. Barko, Cortney Cronberg. Rediscovering Female Voice and Authority: The Revival of Female Artists in Wendy Wasserstein's The Heidi Chronicles. Frontiers: A Journal of Women's Studies. Vol. 29, no. 2 2008, p. 123, pl. 1. Andera, Margaret, Nonie Gadsden, Britt Salvesen, and Laurie Winters. Collection Guide: Milwaukee Art Museum. Milwaukee, Wisconsin: Milwaukee Art Museum, 2004, pp. 13, 67, cat. 10, color illus. p. 13. Adams, Laurie Schneider. Art Across Time. Vol. 2. 2nd ed. New York: McGraw-Hill Higher Education, 2002, color illus. p. 616. Milwaukee Art Museum. Building a Masterpiece: Milwaukee Art Museum. New York: Hudson Hill Press, 2001, p. 63, color illus. Adams, Laurie Schneider. Art Across Time. Vol. 2. 1st ed. McGraw-Hill College, 1999, p. 593, color pl. 16.9. Buckler, McKay Hill. A History of Western Society. 5th ed. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1995, b/w illus. p. 420. Ferino-Pagden, Sylvia. Sofonisba Anguissola: Die Malerin der Renaissance (um 1535-1625). 1995, Vienna: Kunsthistorsches Museum, Wien, 1995, p. 101, cat. 29, color illus. p. 102. Kusche, Maria, and Sylvia Ferino-Pagden. Sofonisba Anguissola: A Renaissance Woman. Washington, D.C.: National Museum of Women in the Arts, 1995, color pl. 13. Buffa, Paolo (ed.). Sofonisba Anguissola e le sue sorelle. Milan: Leonardo Arte, 1994, p.228, cat. 22, color illus. p. 229. Heller, Nancy. Women Artists: An Illustrated History. New York: Abbeville Press Publishers, 1987, color illus. p. 17, pl. plate 6. Goldstein, Rosalie, ed. Guide to the Permanent Collection. Milwaukee, Wisconsin: Milwaukee Art Museum, 1986, p. 28, color illus. p. 28.
Exhibition History
Sofonisba Anguissola e le sue sorelle / La prima donna pittrice, Sofonisba Anguissola die Malerin der Renaissance (um 1535-1625) / Sofonisba Anguissola: A Renaissance Woman, Centro Culturale città di Cremona, Cremona, Italy, September 17–December 11, 1994; Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna, Austria, January 17–March 26,1995; National Museum of Women in the Arts, Washington, D.C., April 7–June 15, 1995. Layton School of Art, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, November 10, 1961–April 10, 1969.


This information is subject to change as the result of ongoing research.