Montani writes beautifully about a passionate woman and extraordinarily talented artist and her struggles with the limitations placed on female artists of the time… Montani explains the details of what went into Sofonisba’s art, including how she prepared the canvases and ground the pigments. Her descriptions are so vivid, you can imagine each painting in your mind.
Vicki Kondelik for Historical Novel Society Magazine
December 1579. On the deck of a galley a woman stands staring into the darkness. She is alone, bewildered and with no fight left in her. Even she doesn’t know what it is that draws her to the dark swirl of the waves beneath the keel, but she can’t help leaning out towards it. A jolt, a fall and a hand stretching out to save her….
This is where the journey starts as events unfold in the adventurous life of Sofonisba Anguissola, the first female artist to challenge the conventions of the time and achieve international fame in a struggle to assert her role and her identity.
Sofonisba’s travels take her from the town where she was born, Cremona, in Lombardy, at that time under Spanish domination, to the oppressive atmosphere of the court in Madrid under Felipe II, then to Sicily under the viceroys in a fascinating mix of artists’ colours with a backddrop of history, drama, intrigue, adventure and romance.
The fresco is painted through Sofonisba’s penetrating gaze as she sensitively captures the human soul of those sitting for their portraits while as a free spirit she inevitably clashes with the prejudices of her time.
Will these strong character traits enable her to tackle the challenges that life continues to throw at her so she can summon the courage to claim the right to decide her own destiny?