Author: Jane Fortune

Author and philanthropist, Dr. Jane Fortune is founder and chair of the Advancing Women Artists Foundation and creator of the Jane Fortune Research Program on Women Artists in the Age of the Medici at the Medici Archive Project. Her books include When the World Answered: Florence, Women Artists and the 1966 Flood; To Florence, Con Amore: 90 Ways to Love the City; Art by Women in Florence and Invisible Women: Forgotten Artists of Florence. She is known as “Indiana Jane” because of her efforts to identify and restore art by women artists in Florentine museums and deposits.
November 2, 2017

Michelangelo Buonarroti and his women

Behind every great man is a great woman, the old adage says. Was the same true of Michelangelo? Perhaps not in the classic sense, but here are tales of three women—an artist, a poet and a patroness of the arts—who “crossed his path” and influenced his life and legacy. Or maybe that was the other […]
September 28, 2017

The starstruck sixteenth century

To show his influence, fifteenth-century banker Filippo Strozzi commissioned a palazzo designed to be bigger and grander than any of the Medici palaces. Today, this three-story cubic building in pietra forte hosts three art shows a year that span all periods and genres. Palazzo Strozzi is the largest temporary exhibition space in Florence and until […]
September 6, 2017

The Church of San Niccolò d’Oltrarno

The whole of Italy celebrates the height of summer holidays on August 15, the day known as Ferragosto. Although many younger-generation Italians have forgotten the origins of this once-religious feast, it traditionally honored the Virgin Mary’s assumption into heaven. Mary’s divine immortality and the art representing it has been on my mind since Timothy Verdon’s […]
July 16, 2017

Mrs. Della Ragione

Seventy-eight years ago this month, sculptor Antonietta Raphaël Mafai fled Rome. The 1930s had been a harsh decade for her as the anti-Semitic media pushed for the creation of a “Pure Race”. She had seen her name printed in a list of “artists to ban”, because “degenerated” Jewish art had to be abolished and its […]
June 12, 2017

The ladies of Villa Cerreto Guidi

Villa Cerreto Guidi, near Fucecchio, was designed by Bernando Buontalenti and constructed in 1556 by order of Cosimo I. It became home to Isabella de’ Medici, the grand duke’s favorite daughter, an early feminist who met her tragic end in the villa’s nuptial bedroom, murdered by her husband Paolo Orsini. It is said that her […]
May 4, 2017

Woman Power and Medici men

Whilst Florentine Renaissance artist Plautilla Nelli “follows in the footsteps of Savonarola” in her first solo show at the Uffizi, the work of contemporary Austrian painter Maria Lassnig (1914–2014) has been installed at Palazzo Pitti and her exhibition “Woman Power” is well underway. These simultaneous exhibitions will continue until June and are part of Uffizi […]
March 1, 2017

Nelli’s Last Supper inspires questions

While contemplating Plautilla Nelli’s Last Supper in Rossella Lari’s Florentine restoration studio, I am overcome with a sense of wonder. There is no other way to feel when standing before this immense oil-on-canvas masterpiece, created in the 1570s by Florence’s first female painter.   Nelli’s Last Supper is seven meters long and nearly two meters […]
February 3, 2017

Tiny transgressions in art by women

Early women artists are often depicted as rebellious souls who “wreak havoc” by overturning social expectations. In Florence, Artemisia Gentileschi shocked her fellows at Casa Buonarroti by painting her tribute to Michelangelo on the gallery ceiling while five months pregnant. In France, not too long ago, Rosa Bonheur was arrested for painting in public—in trousers. […]
January 13, 2017

10 years of the Advancing Women Artists Foundation

The Advancing Women Artists Foundation recently celebrated its tenth anniversary. Jane Fortune takes us on a walk down “Memory Lane”.
December 2, 2016

5 life lessons from Florence’s first woman artist

This year marks the tenth anniversary of my quest to re-discover and restore art by women in Florence. The announcement of a special exhibition for Suor Plautilla Nelli at the Uffizi this March has left me reflecting on the “top five” things Florence’s first woman artist has taught me.     Research means “to search […]