Lady in Ermine: The Story of a Woman Who Painted the Renaissance reveals the discovery of an historic figure who embodies the struggle of women throughout the ages while immersing the reader in the sixteenth century world of the Renaissance figures she paints.
As a girl in Lombardy, Sofonisba Anguissola trains to paint with mannerist masters, and though society frowns upon women having such ambition, Sofonisba’s father unwaveringly encourages her. A royal tour by Prince Philip of Spain inspires her lifelong dream: to perfect the king’s portrait and show his truth on canvas, the highest calling for a Renaissance portraitist. Her drive to vindicate her loving father, a bastard of nobility, propels her. Politics of the Spanish empire brings Sofonisba to the heart of the royal court in Madrid. She aspires to achieve her goal while others at court work to undermine her as a female artist. Tragedy unfolds in the royal household, but in the process, Sofonisba finds her opportunity to paint the King of Spain, honoring her family name with her success. In life after court, Sofonisba navigates two marriages, royal appointments, love, hardship, and bankruptcy, while leaving a legacy of hundreds of paintings and influencing generations of artists from Anthony van Dyck to Peter Paul Rubens. This is her story.