The image of the female heroine in early modern art is one that varies greatly depending upon the artist portraying her. However, some of these works move beyond simple variation and into the exception. Many of these exceptions are those which show the heroine in not only a positive light, but as a woman empowered and in control of her own destiny; and these exceptions are often the work of artists who happen to be female.
As Mary Garrard has argued in her presentation of the work of Artemisia Gentileschi, women were restricted by and affected by the ideas of gender imposed upon them; therefore, their chosen topics may afford a closer glimpse into the lives of these painters. This paper will employ Garrard’s methodology in an examination of the work of Elisabetta Sirani. By viewing the presentations of her subjects, we can better appreciate the woman who dared to paint them and understand how such women viewed themselves as active agents in a patriarchal world. This paper represents a portion of a larger study addressing the woman artist in the early modern era.
Brooke Bergantzel, ’08 Council Bluffs, IA
Majors: History, Medieval and Early Modern Studies
Sponsor: Christina McOmber