Here’s Looking at Me
Morgan will lead us through the looking glass of Sofonisba’s portraits, however, here are my thoughts and questions for you to ponder.
1. My research is all about the “absent presence” in works of art. Mary Garrard posits an interesting theory about Sofonisba Anguissola’s double portrait of Bernardo Campi painting Sofonisba. What aspect of Sofonisba is not present in this work of art?
2. Campi may be considered in a conventional way as Pygmalion in this work of art, or conversely as pseudo-Pygmalion. Discuss both of these readings and why you find one more compelling than the other.
3. Comment on the issue of audience in Sofonisba’s works and why that is such a critical factor in Garrard’s thesis.
4. What was the reigning paradigm for women artists during the Renaissance? In what ways does Sofonisba subvert this paradigm?
5. Why did Sofonisba add the word “virgo” to her self-portraits? In what other ways did she underscore her lack of identification with typical feminine qualities?
6. What did the presence of the virginal connote in the self-portraits of the artist? With whom did she wish to be symbolically linked?
7. How did the element of gender alter the chess game in the Renaissance? What does the inner dynamic of Sofonisba’s chess game reveal?
8. Garrard claims that Sofonisba’s work, with its focus on family life, kinship networks, private history, etc., questions the patriarchalism from which they depart. Do you agree?