Elisabetta Sirani (Bologna 1638-1665) The Madonna reading, oil on canvas, 94 x 76 cm, framed ÜBERLANGTEXT
A. Modesti, Elisabetta Sirani, London 2022 (forthcoming)
We are grateful to Adelina Modesti for confirming the attribution of the present painting.
Elisabetta Sirani was the daughter of Giovanni Andrea Sirani (1610–1670) who trained her in the arts of painting, drawing and engraving. Elisabetta rose to the head of her father’s studio around 1662 and became one of the most innovative and influential figures of the Bolognese school of painting. Her pupils included Ginevra Cantofoli (1612–1672) with whom Elisabetta collaborated. Despite her early death and the brevity of her career, Elisabetta became a fundamental figure in the diffusion of the classical Baroque style of Guido Reni amongst the younger generation of Bolognese painters, and in addition, the development of her own distinctive style must not be overlooked.
Elisabetta Sirani’s paintings are characterised by their broad brushwork and her use of a rich neo-Venetian palette together with a depth of shading. Her extraordinary speed of execution allowed her to complete, in just a few years, about two hundred canvases, as well as a considerable quantity of engravings, drawings and watercolour sketches. The artist attained numerous public commissions and she made devotional works for private clients representing the Madonna, the Holy Family and Saints. Sirani kept a register of her paintings in the form of a work diary, her Nota delle pitture fatte da me Elisabetta Sirani which was subsequently published by Malvasia in his Felsina Pittrice (1678). From this register it is possible to reconstruct the scale and variety of her production, as well as her network of clients and patrons. Sirani’s works were highly valued, not only by the ecclesiastical institutions and aristocracy of Bologna, but also by the sovereigns of Italy and Europe, among whom the Medici and the King of Poland.
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