20 de março de 2011

Sofonisba Anguissola - The Chess Game

The Chess Game - 1555
Muzeum Naradowe - Poznan - Poland
Sofonisba Anguissola (1535-1625) was a fortunate young italien woman in that her enlightened father endeavored to educate all seven children - including the girls - in the best humanistic tradition. Although several of her sisters also painted, it quickly became clear that Sofonisba was a prodigy. She trained with the eminent masters Bernardino Campi and Bernadino Gatti, and - quite unusual for a woman - gained an international reputation. "The Chess Game" is probably her most famous painting and signals a departure in portraiture. She dispenses with stiff formal poses and instead depicts three of her sisters - Lucia left, Europa middle, and Minerva on the right with someone generally considered to be a servant - in a relaxed, informal game of chess. The servant might appear as a chaperone to suggest the virtue of the girls, however, she also presents a contrast in both class and age to the three girls of noble birth. Chess was considered a masculine game requiring logic and strategic skills, rarely the attributes ascribed to females. In spite of the good humour of the painting, it is clear from Europa's impish delight in Lucia's imminent victory that she took the game seriously. Acess to nude models was denied to woman artists at the time, so this restricted the available subject matter. Anguissola focused on bringing life to the genre of portraiture. Her achivement was recognized by Giorgio Vasari who rated her above other female artists, writing that:

"Anguissola has shown greater application and better grace than any other woman of our age in her endeavors at drawing; she has thus succeeded not only in drawing, coloring and painting from nature, and copying excellently from others, but by herself has created rare and very beautiful paintings."
Source: Stephen Farthing

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