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MLA Seminar: Women Artists: Protagonists of the Italian Renaissance, 1450-1700

Subject Area
Course Number
ARTH 505 640
Course Code
Course Key
Barker, Sheila
Primary Program
Course Description
Some of the most famous figures amidst the cultural ferment of the Renaissance were women artists. At the focus of this course will be those who led professional careers, especially Diana Scultori, Sofonisba Anguissola, Lavinia Fontana, Artemisia Gentileschi, Giovanna Garzoni, and Elisabetta Sirani. Each developed a distinctive and celebrated style, but each also had to forge a public persona and a professional path that mitigated against the unorthodoxy of her social position. Not to be forgotten are the many women artists, like Countess Lucrezia Quistelli, or Suor Plautilla Nelli, who eschewed professionalism and who, especially in the case of women religious, were seeking a common ground between the secular fascination with opulence and sophistication on the one hand and a pandect of spiritual, anti-individualistic values on the other hand. The course will conclude with reflections on the politics of exhibiting, teaching, and marketing artworks by Renaissance women today, based on examinations of auction house strategies and the 2021 exhibitions of female old masters at the Detroit Institute of the Arts, the Wadsworth Atheneum, and Palazzo Reale in Milan.
Subject Area Vocab