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Gender and Generational Art

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Gender and Generational
Gender in the 16
th
Century: Maiden Women, 1561- Sofonisba Anguissola (Self Portrait)
Through art, one is able to draw conclusions on the roles that were expected of each
gender within an era. The 16
th
century art gives light into the societal expectations of the different
genders of this particular period. In the 1561 self-portrait by Sofonisba Anguissola, she pains the
picture of what noble women were supposed to be; educated and well cultured. In her painting,
Anguissola is playing a piano. This is intentionally done to depict her as an elite and cultured
noble rather than a craftsperson or artisan. The presence of the chaperone in the background goes
to emphasize the fact that she is a maiden from a reputable background.
The approach used by Anguissola in depicting the 16
th
century cultured woman is
embraced by other artists of the period. The other aspects of this painting that is present in other
self-portraits by women include simple dresses and straightforward look. This was not common
with the paintings of the aristocrats.

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