ELISABETTA SIRANI. Painter in seventeenth-century Bologna

Elisabetta Sirani | Maddalena penitente

Elisabetta Sirani (1638 – 1665), Maddalena penitente. Olio su tela. 105 x 80 cm (firmata e datata 1658). Dettaglio


The career of Elisabetta Sirani as a painter is encompassed within a decade.
Born on 8 January 1638, she made her debut at the age of seventeen, in 1655, when she began to record the paintings she was commissioned to paint.

Having succeeded her father in the family workshop, Elisabeth is one of those women artists of whom we have known nothing for too long.
Her workshop is an all-female one, and now an exhibition sheds light on her life and works.

Elisabetta Sirani painter


Elisabetta Sirani | Le Tre Virtù

Elisabetta Sirani (1638 – 1665), Le Tre Virtù. Olio su tela. 139 x 165 cm (firmata e datata 1664)

Elisabetta Sirani’s life took place entirely in Bologna.
She owes her artistic education to her father Giovanni Andrea (Bologna 1610-1670), one of the main collaborators of Guido Reni, who opened a flourishing workshop after the master’s death (in 1642).

President of a nude academy, a great connoisseur of drawings and an expert, Giovanni Andrea Sirani was part of an elite group of nobles and scholars who, together with him, played a decisive role in the affirmation of the painter outside the confines of the city of Bologna.

Elisabetta Sirani’s career is encapsulated in a notebook entitled Nota delle Pitture fatte da me Elisabetta Sirani, in which she annotates the works commissioned from her and published posthumously by her biographer Carlo Cesare Malvasia.

In 1662, she took over from her father, who was ill due to gout, in the running of the family workshop, for which she used only female assistants, forming a new generation of female painters.
A few years later, on 28 August 1665, the young artist died suddenly in her home in Bologna, amid rumours of poisoning but most likely as a result of peritonitis caused by a perforating ulcer.

Elisabetta Sirani | dettaglio Le Tre Virtù

Elisabetta Sirani, Le Tre Virtù (dettaglio)


Ossimoro Galleria d’Arte in Spilamberto (MO) presents an in-depth exhibition dedicated to Elisabetta Sirani (Bologna, 1638-1665), one of the most important artistic figures of 17th-century Bologna.
Curated by Sergio Bianchi, the exhibition is organised in collaboration with the Municipality of Vignola, with the patronage of the Municipality of Spilamberto and the support of Ricognizioni sull’arte APS.

Painter in 17th-century Bologna

Curated by Sergio Bianchi
1 to 23 October 2022

The exhibition is held in two locations:

  1. at the Office of the Mayor of the Municipality of Vignola there is a masterpiece by the painter entitled The Three Virtues, signed and dated 1664, recently exhibited at the Uffizi Galleries in Florence.
  2. In the Art Gallery in Spilamberto there are five paintings by the Bolognese painter, including a Magdalene, signed and dated 1658, and a Cleopatra, exhibited in 2021 at the Palazzo Reale in Milan.
Condividi su

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *