Home, Surprising Home:
A Mobile Makeover
We’re in a veritable decorating frenzy these days, what with the release… >
Home, Surprising Home:
A Mobile Makeover
We’re in a veritable decorating frenzy these days, what with the release of our first ever House & Home catalog, a…
Lucia Anguissola (ca. 1536 - 1565)
Pinacoteca Castello Sforzesco, Milan, Italy
Lucia Anguissola is the younger sister of Sofonisba Anguissola and the third daughter of Amilcare Anguissola and Biana Ponzone. While there are extensive records of Sofonisba, very little about Lucia’s life is known and no birth records exist. Her date of birth has been deduced from her self-portrait in which she appears to be between 15 and 20. Where she received her training is unknown.
Sofonisba Anguissola, 1551, Portrait of a Nun
From the Web Gallery of Art:
In the painting the nun wears a lily-white habit which stands out against the dark background. The red and gold bound book of prayers offers the only source of detail. The sitter is usually identified as Elena Anguissola, Sofonisba’s younger sister who had been a student of the painter Bernardino Campi along with Sofonisba, and later entered the monastery of San Vincenzo in Mantua assuming the name of Sister Minerva.
Women of the Italian Renaissance | ISABELLA ANDREINI (1562-1604)
Born in Padua to Venetian parents, at the age of 14 Isabella Canali joined the Gelosi, a well-known touring theatre company whose commedia dell’arte performances were favoured by the Italian and French aristocracy. Isabella proved a talented performer, with a genuine stage presence, quick wit, and the flexibility and improvisation skills that were so important to the commedia dell’arte style. For the most part, she played the prima donna innamorata — the woman in love. Her romantic counterpart on the stage was Francesco Andreini — however, what began as feigned attraction for an audience soon bled into reality. The two fell in love, and married in 1578. Isabella was 16 at the time; Francesco, aged 30.
The couple would remain members of the company for the rest of Isabella’s life, with Francesco ultimately taking over as director of the trouble. Together, husband and wife managed the Gelosi’s activities, handled negotiations with patrons and staged performances for many of the most prestigious courts of Italy and France. They had seven children together, who were raised among the aristocracy of Mantua while Isabella and Francesco toured.
Though we know nothing of Isabella’s childhood education, she was undoubtedly an intelligent and well-read woman; her writing shows familiarity with classical sources and often cites Greek and Roman playwrights and philosophers. She was a prolific writer herself. By 1587, her sonnets were already being printed in Italian anthologies. The following year, at the age of 16, she published Mirtilla, a pastoral play with a satirical pro-female twist. Her Rime, a collection of 359 poems, was published in 1601, with a French translation following in 1603. In Rome, she entered a poetry competition sponsored by Cardinal Giorgio Aldobrandini, coming in second place behind the famed poet Torquato Tasso. In Pavia, she was honoured with membership of the literary Accademia degli Intenti in Pavia. This was no token gesture, either, for Isabella was already corresponding with several of the group’s members and apparently attended some of their meetings.
Once of her most famous roles was as the lead in the comedic Pazzia d’Isabella (“The Madness of Isabella”), which the Gelosi performed in 1589 in Florence at the wedding of Ferdinando de’ Medici to the French princess Christine of Lorraine. Isabella cleverly tailored the role to highlight her own talents: as her character descended into madness, she spoke several languages, sang in French to the bride and imitated the dialects and mannerisms of the other performers in the play. One admiring spectator, Giuseppe Pavoni, pronounced her performance so memorable that “as long as the world goes on, her beautiful eloquence and worth will be praised”.
Isabella’s renown as a performer is even more impressive when you remember that during this period, professional actresses tended to rank on par with prostitutes. Throughout her career, Isabella had to counter these perceptions by crafting an image of herself as a ‘virtuous woman’. In pursuing humanist themes in her work and performances, steering clear of buffoonery and vulgarity on the stage, and carefully avoiding any overt social criticism, she was able build for herself a successful career as a writer and actress in a male-dominated world, while still maintaining a reputation as a ‘good Christian woman’.
She died in Lyon in 1604 during the miscarriage of what would have been her eighth child. After her death, Francesco disbanded the Gelosi, retired from acting and spent the next few years arranging the rest of Isabella’s written works for publication. These included Rime… Parte seconda, a book of poetry; Lettere, a set of fictional correspondences from male and female characters, written in the style of theatrical monologues; and Fragmenti, a collection of improvised dialogues of Isabella’s innamorta characters. The rest of the Gelosi went on to join the Fedeli, a new company founded by Isabella and Francesco’s son Giovan.
Through her written works and her theatrical performances, her fame has continued to echo through the centuries, her name becoming synonymous with the role of the prima donna innamorata she so often played: Even today, Isabella remains a common stock character in commedia dell’arte.
The Feast of All Saints (2001) // dir. by Peter Medak
For all of you who have never heard or seen this movie, here you go.
Synopsis: Set in nineteenth-century New Orleans, the story depicts the gens de couleur libres, or the Free People of Colour, a dazzling yet damned class caught between the world of white privilege and black oppression.
Damn near everybody is in this movie. The cast includes Robert Ri’chard, Bianca Lawson, Peter Gallagher, Gloria Reuen, Ossie Davis, Ruby Dee, Jennifer Beals, Eartha Kitt, Pam Grier, Jasmine Guy, James Earl Jones, Forest Whitaker, Ben Vereen, Victoria Rowell, and more.
Oh, wow. I didn’t know this film existed!
Also, a lot of people don’t realize how old the phrase “People of Color” is, or the history of the term. It’s obviously changed slightly in meaning and usage, but its origins are French, “Gens de Couleur Libres”.
The way it interacts with modern use versus its origins in Black and mixed communities is explored in a critical manner here by Jared Sexton in “People of Color Blindness”.