Lavinia Fontana - Encyclopedia

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LAVINIA FONTANA (1552-1614), Italian portrait-painter, was the daughter of Prospero Fontana. She was greatly employed by the ladies of Bologna, and, going thence to Rome, painted the likenesses of many illustrious personages, being under the particular patronage of the family (Buoncampagni) of Pope Gregory XIII., who died in 1585. The Roman ladies, from the days of this pontiff to those of Paul V., elected in 1605, showed no less favour to Lavinia than their Bolognese sisters had done;. and Paul V. was himself among her sitters. Some of her portraits, often lavishly paid for, have been attributed to Guido. In works of a different kind also she united care and delicacy with boldness. Among the chief of these are a Venus in the Berlin museum; the "Virgin lifting a veil from the sleeping infant Christ," in the Escorial; and the "Queen of Sheba visiting Solomon." Her own portrait in youth - she was accounted very beautiful - was perhaps her masterpiece; it belongs to the counts Zappi of Imola, the family into which Lavinia married. Her husband,, whose name is given as Paolo Zappi or Paolo Foppa, painted the draperies in many of Lavinia's pictures. She is deemed on the whole a better painter than her father; from him naturally came her first instruction, but she gradually adopted the Caraccesque style, with strong quasi-Venetian colouring. She was elected into the Academy of Rome, and died in that city in 1614.

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