True Reflections

     Men in the Renaissance really thought they knew women. Leonardo painted the Mona Lisa, Botticelli depicted Venus, and Michelangelo created the pieta. Of course, you already know this. But that begs the question: Were depictions of women best reflected in men’s art? What about women artists? Im guessing you cannot name any women artists during the Renaissance off the top of your head, and honestly neither can I. That is when I began and decided to do some further research on important women artists during the Renaissance.

Leonardo’s portrait of Ginevra de’Benci doesn’t look like his subject is enjoying herself. I read about this in article on both women and men in the Renaissance by Tess Drahman (Women and Men in Renaissance Art). Drahman helped me notice how stiff and uptight women were. Drahman described the woman of this portrait to not be “in on the fun” in the time of creativity during the Renaissance (Women and Men in Renaissance Art, Drahman). I also stumbled upon nude depictions of the women Venus, specifically painted by Titian. Venus was displayed to be very suggestive, and stared directly at the viewer, almost “daring us to look at her” (Women and Men in Renaissance Art).

I further looked into women artists, because who would better represent women during the Renaissance than women themselves? Soronisba Anguissola, a famous woman painter, painted The Chess Game, that displayed her sisters playing chess, and being very playful. I began to ponder the idea that maybe women did enjoy the Renaissance but perhaps there were not enough women artists to represent it.

As I became more interested in Soronisba Anguissola, I decided look into other women artists of that time. I came across an amazing painter, and the “ideal woman artist,” Elisabetta Sirani. In her painting Omnia vincit Amor, she depicted a playful child of Christ. I really enjoyed the elegance and beauty that she showed, displaying her great femininity. Sirani’s painting of Omnia vincit Amor, can closely relate Anguissola’s: The Chess Game, because of its display of liveliness and playfulness.   This further suggests that perhaps women did enjoy the fun and creativity during the Renaissance as much as the men did, but there weren’t enough women that could stand for their great creativity in visual history.

When you look at McKay’s section on Art, he conveys that the women that were active in art were not “regarded as ‘major arts,’ but only as ‘minor’ or ‘decorative’ arts” (McKay 426) and those that participated in the culture of art were a “small, highly educated minority of literary humanists” (McKay 428). I think that when reading McKay, women seem insignificant in the sense that they did not particularly have or participate in a Renaissance, but I think in order to gain a full understanding on how women were viewed during this era, we have to look at women’s pieces of art. They provided an insight that helps us to come to the conclusion that each depiction or portrayal of women during the Renaissance is very unique and every one of these representations makes different statements about the view of women during this period of great artistry and creativity.

Works Cited:

Drahman, Tess. “Women and Men in Renaissance Art.” Students sbc . N.p., n.d. Web. 27 Feb. 2012.           <http:/>.

“Elisabetta Sirani – Artists – Art Fortune.” Online Art Gallery | Buy and Sell Art | Buy Art | . N.p., n.d. Web. 29 Feb. 2012. <;.

Hanez, Patrick . “Reflection Art.” PBASE. N.p., n.d. Web. 2 Mar. 2012. <;.

Mckay , John P. . “A History of Western Society, Volume B: From Renaissance to 1815 – John P. McKay, Bennett D. Hill, John Buckler, Clare Haru Crowston, Merry E. Wiesner-Hanks – Google Books.” Google Books. N.p., 19 Oct. 2007. Web. 13 Feb. 2012. <;.



  1. kristin888

    Hi Claire! Very informative and thoughtful post!
    I learned a lot about women artists during the Renaissance and you introduced some very unique artworks as well. By any chance, did you find any paintings of women done by women? If so, did you see any similarities or contrasts between those paintings and those done by men?

    • claire1431

      Hi Kristin! Thank you so much! Yes I did find paintings of women drawn by other women. As I talked about in my post, the painting “The Chess Game” was a piece by women. I found many similarities between different women’s paintings yes. Many women would draw themselves somewhat enjoying the Renaissance, even though they may not have enjoyed it quite as much as the men, it still was a good time. Thanks!

  2. josh1818

    Hey Claire,
    Really interesting and unique post. You gave a lot of insight about both male and female artists living in the Renaissance. Why do you think there is so much less documentation on Renaissance women artists than men? What do you think the lack of information says about the perceptions and roles of women during the Renaissance?


    • claire1431

      Hey Josh! Thank you! I think that there has always been this discrimination against women during the Renaissance, and that is why there is such little representations of women from women artists. I think the lack of information shows how limited women were during the Renaissance, and those women that were artists often were artists only because they were born in a family of very rich and noble men. Thanks again!

  3. ottol808

    Hi Claire! You covered a lot about the role of women in Renaissance Arts, you seem to give a lot of very thoughtful insights when it comes to the subject of women. Do you think that Titian purposely painted a naked Venus, just to attract the attention of men?

    • claire1431

      Hi Otto! Thank you! I think that when Titian was painting the nude depiction of Venus, it was yes somewhat to attract the attention of men, because in the Renaissance many of the male artists displayed their idea of an ideal woman.

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