Catholic-Reformation Painters of the Baroque: A Study on Why Women in Bologna




Schmidt, Mikaila

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This thesis examines the unprecedented rise in female artists in Bologna during the Baroque period. It argues that women in Bologna found success during the 17th century primarily due to their revival of the maniera devota style. After the decisions made at the Council of Trent in 1565, religious art was required to reflect the newly unified Catholic Church as well as inspire a deeper sense of religious devotion and connection to faith. Artists such as Caravaggio and Artemisia Gentileschi solidified the emotional intensity of this period through dramatic contrast and religious symbolism. Influenced by Archbishop Paleotti, painters Guido Reni and the Carracci painters, Lavinia Fontana, and Elisabetta Sirani combine naturalism and science in a way that inspires devotion and introspection. While many factors contributed to female prosperity, the religious intensity and emotional connections they establish with the viewer allowed for their popularity in Bologna and across Italy to grow, paving the way for future success by later female painters.



Art history