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Giulia Lama

Baroque painter finally coming into her own

Self-portrait in Uffizi Gallery

Mathematician and poet, and a good friend of Giambattista Piazzetta, whose chiaroscuro style most closely resembles her own, Giulia Lama (1681–1747) one of the best-known painters of her time. She never married (her jealous male contemporaries scoffed that she was too ‘ugly’ to be any good). ‘The poor girl is persecuted by the painters,’ wrote the Abate Conti in a letter in 1728. ‘But her virtue triumphs over her enemies. It is true that she is as ugly as she is witty but she speaks with grace and precision, so that one easily forgives her her face.’

preparatory drawing for painting of same subject

She was, as far as anyone knows, the first woman to have received church commissions; also one of the few to have drawn male and female nudes from life, vigorous drawings now housed in the Ca' Rezzonico museum.

Judith and Holofernes

After decades of being almost forgotten, and having her works attributed to Piazzetta and other artists, she is now having something of a revival; Save Venice Inc only recently discovered two forgotten panels depicting the Evangelists in the church of San Marziale while working on a Tintoretto. Most of her known works are outside Venice.



Text © Dana Facaros & Michael Pauls

Images by Giulia Lama , Jane023 on Wikimedia Commons