Lavinia Fontana

Italian, 1552-1614

Lavinia’s father was an artist in the city of Bologna, and from early in his daughter’s life, he was determined to give her a well-rounded education in theology, literature, and painting. Because Bologna revered its women artists these things were not denied to her. Her work with her father, father-in-law, and Cardinal Scipione Borghese enabled her to become one of the shapers of Counter-Reformation imagery in late 16th-century Bologna. Although Lavinia is best remembered for these large-scale religious compositions, in Jane’s painting Lavinia is accompanied by some of her portrait studies, placed in the negative space of the work. These differ in feel and size from her larger compositions and show her interest in the facial expressions of individuals. The portraits include an image of a girl who suffered from hypertrichosis, the growth of hair all over the face and body. Also included is an image of a medal commemorating Lavinia’s fame and service to the city of Bologna.

1 Vera Fortunati, Lavinia Fontana of Bologna 1552-1614, (Milan: Electra, 1998), 16.

Original Works Referenced

Self-Portrait at the Spinet with her Maidservant
L’Accademia Nazionale di San Luca

Head of a Youth
Galleria Borghese

Portrait of Hairy Faced Girl
Daughter of Pedro Gonzalez
New York
Pierpont Morgan Library

Portrait of a Child
Galleria degli Uffizi
Gabinetto dei Disegni e delle Stampe

Felice Antonio Casoni
Lavinia Fontana
Bolognese Painter
Washington D.C.
Samuel H. Kress Collection
National Gallery of Art