Bolognese painter Lavinia Fontana was the most significant and prolific woman artist of Renaissance Europe. Her large and renowned body of work encompasses several genres, including altarpieces, history paintings, and portraits. This extensively illustrated book is the first comprehensive study of Fontana in the English language. Art historian Caroline P. Murphy assesses the relation of Fontana's native city of Bologna to the artist's work and career, proposing that the unique attributes of the city, its religious and social climate and the citizens who became Fontana's patrons contributed importantly to her success as an artist.
Employing an especially varied set of source materials, from personal letters, baptismal records, property inventories, and wills to such contemporary printed sources as sermons, poems, and scientific treatises, the book opens a window on the little-known world of a professional woman of Renaissance Italy.