A Portrait of an Old Man, by Sophonisba Anguissola (1532-1625).

Oil on canvas, 89cm by 72.5cm.
Signed c.r.: Sofin/isba/Angus/sola/pinx/f.f.d./m.d.1/x.

The identity of the sitter is unfortunately unknown, but the painting was purchased by Brownlow, 9th Earl of Exeter (1725-1793).

It has recently been extensively conserved.

Sophonisba Anguissola was the extremely talented daughter of a Cremonese nobleman, the eldest in a family of six girls and one boy.

Her father encouraged all of his children to pursue their talents and for a time four of her sisters also became artists.

Sophonisba travelled to Rome where she became a highly respected portrait painter and where she met Michaelangelo, who recognised her talent and for two years offered her guidance and advice.

Philip II of Spain (1527-1598) employed her as court painter and lady-in-waiting to his third wife, the young French Elizabeth of Valois, with whom she became great friends.

Sophonisba achieved great fame, influencing many other female artists, but perhaps her most charming portraits are those of her family, exquisitely and formally dressed, but always depicted in an informal family setting.


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