Fontana, Lavinia
(1552-1614)
   Italian painter, a native of Bologna and daughter of the painter Prospero Fontana. She has the largest extant body of work by any female artist active before 1700, a considerable achievement for a woman who also bore her husband (a minor painter named Paolo Zappi) 11 children. By 1577 she had gained a reputation as a painter of portraits at Bologna, and she also produced many paintings on religious themes. Her altarpiece, The Holy Family with Sleeping Christ Child (1589), was produced for the Benedictine monastery linked to the Spanish royal palace, El Escorial, under the patronage of Philip II. Her last major commission was a Martyrdom of St. Stephen painted at Rome for the basilica of S. Paolo fuori le Mure. Other paintings on religious themes include Noli me tangere (1581) and The Vision of St. Hyacinthus (1600) at S. Sabina in Rome.

Historical Dictionary of Renaissance. . 2004.

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