Great Washington Museums: The Walters Art Museum

Sofonisba Anguissola, Portrait of Marquess Massimiliano Stampa, 1557; Oil on canvas; Walters Art Museum, Baltimore, MD.; bequest of Henry Walters, 1931

Sofonisba Anguissola, Portrait of Marquess Massimiliano Stampa, 1557; Oil on canvas; Walters Art Museum, Baltimore, MD.; bequest of Henry Walters, 1931

Great Washington Museums Celebrate Great Women Artists is a NMWA-organized collaborative area-wide project highlighting works by women artists. During 2012, institutions throughout the Washington area are featuring an array of signature works by women artists that have enriched their distinguished collections. This landmark program, in conjunction with NMWA’s 25th anniversary celebration, continues NMWA’s dedication to celebrating women’s achievements in the visual, performing, and literary arts. This excerpt explores one of The Walters Art Museum’s signature works by a woman artist, Sofonisba Anguissola’s Portrait of Marquess Massimiliano Stampa, 1557. Visit www.nmwa.org and download the pdf map to begin your journey!

The boy can be identified as the nine-year-old Massimiliano Stampa, third marquis of the small northern Italian city of Soncin, on the basis of a contemporary annotation on the back of the canvas. This is Sofonisba Anguissola’s first major commission. The family commissioned it to commemorate the boy’s inheritance of his title in 1557, at his father’s death. Anguissola was a sympathetic observer of children: here she leavens the stern, very “adult,” impression of the full-length portrait in the traditional black clothing of the Italian courts during the 16th century with the appeal of child’s hesitant expression.

The Walters Art Museum, 600 N. Charles St., Baltimore, Maryland