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.
May 5, 2018

Say it with a sketch: Elisabetta Sirani at the Uffizi

The Uffizi’s now-annual Women’s Day Show covers two bases this year, providing a window onto painter Elisabetta Sirani and showcasing the treasures of a branch of the gallery often overlooked by the tourist-trail public: the Prints and Drawings Department. Mother and Child, Elisabetta Sirani Those who know that the proof of a painter’s prowess lies […]
February 28, 2018

Breakfast scenes that need seeing

In a city where breakfast means little more than a brioche and a coffee, “breakfast scene” paintings have been popular for centuries. The Medici love for still life gave value to a genre that was originally at the bottom of the painting pyramid. Works that focused on food and flowers were cheap to produce and […]
February 7, 2018

Marry me and make music

Angelica Kauffmann painted her “auto-biographical” self-portrait called The Artist Hesitating between the Arts of Music and Painting while in Rome in 1794. The torn Angelica was encouraged to abandon her painting to pursue a career in music, a traditionally female environment. She ultimately chose to continue as a visual artist and set off for “the […]
December 1, 2017

A present for Palazzo Vecchio

In December 2009, a newly restored David and Bathsheba by Artemisia Gentileschi was unveiled in Palazzo Pitti’s Sala Bianca. I remember it with fondness. Hers was the painting whose restoration would spur the formal establishment of Advancing Women Artists and “A Christmas Gift to Florence” was the name we gave to this temporary solo show. […]
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 […]