Lucia Anguissola was born the third daughter of seven children to Amilcare Anguissola and Bianca Ponzoni in the provincial northern Italian city of Cremona. Amilcare subscribed to the ideas of Baldassar Castiglione regarding how young women should be educated and provided his six daughters with a humanist education. This education included latin, singing, and painting. Lucia’s two older sisters, Sofonisba and Elena, were sent to study with the local painter Bernardino Campi. Although Elena stopped painting when she entered a convent, Sofonisba enjoyed fame during her own life for her skill. When Sofonisba returned home she taught her younger sisters; her reputation in painting was such that it was no longer necessary for Amilcare to apprentice his daughters to other artists.
Lucia demonstrated a keen interest and talent in painting and it is difficult to distinguish her paintings from the work of Sofonisba. Although Lucia died in her mid-twenties, her skill was reputed to be equal to that of her sister. In fact, the Florentine scholar and biographer of the lives of artists, Filippo Baldinucci (1624-1696), believed that her skills would have surpassed that of Sofonisba had she not died so young.
Lucia’s two signed paintings, Dr. Pietro Maria
(ca. 1560; Museo del Prado, Madrid, Spain) and Self Portrait
(ca. 1557; Castello Sforzesco, Civiche raccolte d’Arte di Milano, Milan, Italy), are characterized by a sensitive portrayal of the figure’s features and a high level of detail in the clothing. In Dr. Pietro Maria
, a subtle smile plays upon the figure’s lips adding character to the painting. It is also interesting to note the snake wrapped around the staff is a local species, demonstrating Lucia’s ability to depict images from life and place figures within an authentic context. While both Lucia and her sister, Sofonisba, demonstrate a strong interest in the psychology of the subject and employ similar styling, the work of the two artists can be distinguished by subtle distinctions in the treatment of the form. The figures in Lucia’s painting are solid and slightly pudgy in comparison to the more angular features of the figures in Sofonisba’s portraits. Lucia also tended to depict figures with square shaped fingertips, an understated trait that has aided in the attribution of paintings to the artist’s talented body of work.
sister and student of Sofonisba Anguissola
sister of Elena Anguissola
sister of Europa Anguissola
sister of Anna Maria Anguissola
sister of Minerva Anguissola