Bolognese painter Lavinia Fontana (1552–1614) is considered to be one of Europe’s very first female artists. Although a painter of formidable skill in her own right, as Caroline P. Murphy explains, Fontana’s success was truly a product of her place and time. Murphy, in her illustrated book, “Lavinia Fontana: A Painter and Her Patrons in Sixteenth-Century Bologna” explains succinctly how the particular socio-political climate of Bologna enabled Fontana’s success. In her comprehensive study, Murphy sheds light not only on Fontana’s groundbreaking career as a female painter, but also on the extraordinarily unique environs of sixteenth-century Bologna.

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