Donna DiGiuseppe is a graduate of the University of California at Berkeley where she studied humanities with a focus on the Renaissance in northern Italy, including an unforgettable year in Venice. She attended the University of San Francisco School of Law. After a decade practicing, she left law to pursue a Masters of Art in history at San Francisco State University, where she wrote her thesis on renaissance painter, Sofonisba Anguissola. Donna has lectured on Sofonisba from Palermo to Berkeley. She lives in San Francisco, California and Abruzzo, Italy with her husband and sons.
Donna’s debut novel Lady in Ermine: the Story of a Woman Who Painted the Renaissance will be released in the fall of 2018 by Bagwyn Books, an imprint of the Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies, a research center dedicated to publishing well-researched historical fiction. ISBN 978-0-86698-821-6
Acknowledgements & References
There are many great sources on Sofonisba. In English, Ilya Sandra Perlingieri authored a beautiful volume that covers the span of Sofonisba’s life, Sofonisba Anguissola: the First Great Woman Artist of the Renaissance. Sylvia Ferino-Pagden and Maria Kusche authored a wonderful book in English Sofonisba Anguissola: a Renaissance Woman, and it follows Maria Kusche’s work in Spanish, Retratos y Retratadores, Alonso Sanchez Coello y sus Competidores, as well as the Cremona Catalogue.
My Sofonisba Bible has been The Cremona Catalogue, first published in 1987 and a second edition in 1994, Sofonisba Anguissola e Le Sue Sorelle (Cremona: Leonardo Arte, 1994). It’s an encyclopedic effort that traces every aspect of the artist and her work and the literary and legal sources that document her monumental life. Rossana Sacchi, Flavio Caroli, Valerio Guazzoni, Anastasia Gilardi, Maria Kusche, Giovanni Muto, and all of the other contributors to the Cremona Catalogue influenced my narrative of Sofonisba’s life, one way or another. I also looked to Millo Borghini, Sofonisba, Una Vita per la Pittura and Daniela Pizzagalli, La Signora della Pittura. I am indebted to all these Sofonisba scholars for paving the way for this work of fiction.
From my serendipitous meeting of Alfio Nicotra in Catania in 2007, I was introduced to Ferrante Anguissola D’Altoe and Maria Kusche. Together we presented Progetto Sofonisba in Palermo in 2008, and the three of them have been a rock of support for my project. I will always be grateful for their encouragement. I am sad that Maria is no longer with us to read the final product.
I want to thank the following for their gracious help in search of Sofonisba’s story: Mauro Battocchi, the San Franciscan Italian Consul general, and Marco Lattanzi for my visit to the Palazzo Quirinale; Lucy Whitaker and Hannah Litvack at the Royal Collection, Windsor; Leticia Ruiz at the Prado, Madrid; Giovanni Valgussa at the Accademia Carrara in Bergamo, and the staff at the Brera, Milan. To Nicola Massera in Cremona, in particular, Grazie.
I will always be grateful to my thesis committee at San Francisco State University– Jarbel Rodriguez, Richard Hoffman and Laura Lisy-Wagner, who first helped me to identify this prolific Renaissance woman.
I could not have completed a novel covering 90 years of Sofonisba’s life without the support of my family who have heard me talk about the artist for years.