· Vatican City ·


The women of Jesus
in the art of women

 Le donne di Gesù nell’arte delle donne  DCM-001
05 January 2024

There are many female artists who have grappled with the sacred in different eras and with different modes of expression. What follows is only a small selection that recounts the desire, talent and stubbornness that some have put into their work. The artists are: Elisabetta Sirani, Orsola Maria Caccia, Lavinia Fontana, Angelika Kauffman, Artemisia Gentileschi, Plautilla Nelli, Sofonisba Anguissola.

For the most part, we know from biographies, these were daughters of artists. In times when women could not choose their destiny and their work, the only possibilities were within the family. Nevertheless, in their father's workshops their skills were able to blossom, their ability to refine, their craft to become a profession that made them independent and autonomous, also marking them out as an example of female emancipation.

Their paintings depict women with a strong character, sometimes out of the box, courageous. Whether they are works by artists who lived at the courts of kings and queens, or in convents, whether they travelled through Europe and worked for popes, or whether they never left the cloister, they speak to us of talent, beauty and harmony.

Donne Chiesa Mondo has chosen certain works with that deal with a sacred theme and created by these artists following a common thread, namely, the women who Jesus encountered and portrayed by women. Therefore, the Madonna, holding him in her arms as a child and in her womb when dead; and then St Anne, Martha and Mary, Magdalene, the Samaritan woman, and the Pious women.

We asked Barbara Jatta, director of the Vatican Museums, to present them, who in turn invited Alessandra Rodolfo and Michela Gianfranceschi, who are the curator and assistant to the Department of the Arts of the 18th and 18th centuries of the Pope’s Museums.

“These paintings”, comments Jatta, “are a visual testimony of harmony that also by virtue of the intimate nature of its realisation are able to strike the heart even deeper, and warm it”.

·         Mary by Elisabetta Sirani

·         Virgin and Saint Anne by Orsola Caccia

·         Martha and Mary by Lavinia Fontana

·         The Samaritan Woman by Angelika Kauffman 

·         The Magdalene by Artemisia Gentileschi

·         The Pious Women by Plautilla Nelli

·         The Pietà by Sofonisba Anguissola