This painting celebrates the talents and intertwined stories of two creative women: its painter Lavinia Fontana and her subject, lute player and singer Lucia Bonasoni Garzoni. Fontana and Garzoni lived in Bologna, Italy, during the second half of the 1500s and were successful artists of their time. They overcame the constraints of a male-dominated society to gain wide acclaim.
Fontana depicts Garzoni in an elegantly detailed gown and delicate jewelry that suggest her high status in Italian society. An upturned lute rests on the table behind her along with a sheet of musical notations for playing the instrument. Fontana’s intimately detailed painting suggests that she held Garzoni in high esteem, as did many others.