National Gallery of Victoria Acquires Lavinia Fontana Painting to Address ‘Gender Imbalance’
A 400-year-old painting by one of Europe’s veryfirst expert female artists, the 16th-century Italian painter Lavinia Fontana, hasactually discovered a irreversible house at the National Gallery of Victoria in Melbourne, Australia. The painting is the veryfirst work by the artist to gointo a public collection in the nation, and it is one of simply 30 paintings ever associated to Fontana by historians.
The painting, Mystic Marriage of St Catherine (ca. 1575), illustrates the scriptural martyr Saint Catherine of Alexandria experiencing a vision of Christ. The museum was able to purchase the painting through the Felton Bequest, a charitable fund developed by the early 20th century Australian benefactor Alfred Felton.
Fontana, who was born in 1552 in Bologna, Italy, is commonly understood as the veryfirst female to launch a expert painting profession from an metropolitan studio in Europe. She got her start producing small devotional paintings, numerous of which function historic female figures. She went on to take significant commissions that more raised her profession, and lateron signedupwith a prominent painter’s guild in Rome.
The present work will signupwith another at the NGV by Fontana’s dad, Prospero Fontana, entitled the Holy Family with Saint Jerome, a woman martyr and the baby Saint John the Baptist (ca. 1552–55). That work was obtained through the Felton Bequest for the NGV in 1961.
News of the acquisition comes as museums around the world relocation to treatment historic spaces in their long-term collections, which have left prominent females artists disproportionately under-represented. Female Old Masters have endupbeing a fairly brand-new location of focus, with organizations purchasing essential works by artists such as Advertisementélaïde Labille-Guiard, Sofonisba Anguissola, and more.
The director of the NGV, Tony Ellwood, stated that the recently obtained work “speaks to [Fontana’s] prodigious skill,” consideringthat it was finished when the artist was in her early twenties. The addition of the painting to the collection marks one of numerous “key acquisitions in current years that take essential actions towards resolving historic gender imbalance.”