Laura Gascoigne

Exceptional career woman, unexceptional painter: Lavinia Fontana, at the National Gallery of Ireland, reviewed

This mannerist artist was a serial shatterer of glass ceilings, and dared to charge as much as Van Dyck

‘Galatea and Cherubs Riding the Stormy Waves on a Sea Monster’, c.1590, by Lavinia Fontana. Credit: Private Collection

Reviewing the Prado’s joint exhibition of Sofonisba Anguissola and Lavinia Fontana in the Art Newspaper three years ago, Brian Allen pronounced it well worth seeing but predicted that each of these pioneering 16th-century women artists ‘would wither in the spotlight of her own retrospective’. Was he right? In its new monographic exhibition devoted to Fontana, the National Gallery of Ireland puts his waspish prediction to the test.

Her ‘Galatea and Cherubs’ and ‘Venus and Mars’ are believed to be the first nudes painted by a woman

Ireland’s National Gallery was an early investor in Fontana, acquiring her most ambitious work, ‘The Visit...

Already a subscriber? Log in

Keep reading with a free trial

Subscribe and get your first month of online and app access for free. After that it’s just £1 a week.

There’s no commitment, you can cancel any time.


Unlock more articles



Don't miss out

Join the conversation with other Spectator readers. Subscribe to leave a comment.

Already a subscriber? Log in