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.
September 11, 2018

Leonetta Pieraccini Cecchi’s portraiture spotlighted

“Leonetta Pieraccini Cecchi wants to paint like a man and sometimes she really does succeed,” writes critic Mario Tinti in a 1929 review of this Tuscan artist, now recognized as one of the top “narrators” of early twentieth-century Italy, both on canvas and in literature. “She paints vigorously,” Tinti continues, “with harshly modeled tones like […]
July 9, 2018

The summer weave

Summer makes me long for the lightness of silk, which is why I spoke with Sabine Pretsch, head of textile manufacturing at the Fondazione Arte della Seta Lisio, a Florentine foundation and school dedicated to the production of handmade silk. Its legacy of precious fabrics is part of Florence’s artisan scene today.     Jane […]
June 4, 2018

Pathway of the Gods

Il Palmerino, first cited in Giorgio Vasari’s Lives of Artists in 1420 as the home to goldsmith Ottaviano di Duccio, is the first Florentine stop on the Via degli Dei, an ancient Etruscan trail for pilgrims that follows the curve of the Apennines to Bologna. Slow-travel hikers, many of whom brave the trail as a […]
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 […]