Skip to Main Content

This highly detailed and exquisite portrait depicts the 16th-century musician Lucia Bonasoni Garzoni (b. 1561–at least 1610) by the most productive woman artist of the late 16th century, the Bolognese painter Lavinia Fontana. This portrait is among Fontana's best preserved and most accomplished surviving works in the genre. A rare depiction of a 16th-century woman musician by a 16th-century woman artist, this painting tells the story of two accomplished women who were able to overcome obstacles in a patriarchal society to succeed in the artistic spheres of painting and music.

Fontana died just before her 62nd birthday after a highly successful career. Trained by her father, Prospero Fontana (1512–1597), in the late mannerist style, and most famous for her portraits of noblewomen, she produced her first dateable works around 1575. In addition to portraits, she painted secular and religious subjects, including altarpieces for churches (a rarity in the period), portraits of scholars, and mythological nudes—a subject that was unheard of for women in the period. In 1577, Fontana married Gian Paolo Zappi (c. 1555–1615), who acted as her business manager; she supported her family, which included 11 children, with the profits from her painting. Fontana is one of 68 known women artists from Bologna in the early modern period and was a trailblazer for women artists who succeeded her.

Discover more women artists

Object Data


oil on canvas


overall: 113.5 × 87.5 cm (44 11/16 × 34 7/16 in.)

framed: 149.54 × 126.68 × 8.89 cm (58 7/8 × 49 7/8 × 3 1/2 in.)

Accession Number


Artists / Makers

Lavinia Fontana (artist) Italian, 1552 - 1614

Image Use

This image is in the public domain.
Read our full Open Access policy for images .

Detail Information


upper right: LUCIA BONAS: AD [A in superscript],GARZONIB / ANNO AETATS [S in superscript] SUE / XXCIII[II]


(sale, C. Galardelli, Florence, 11-15 May 1914, third day, 13 May 1914, no. 49). private collection, Madrid; (sale, Subastas Segre, Madrid, 18 May 2021, no. 98); Lullo Pampoulides, London; purchased 24 May 2022 by NGA.

Exhibition History

Lavinia Fontana: Trailblazer, Rule Breaker, Dublin, National Gallery of Ireland, 2023, no. 19, repro.


Tanzi, Marco. "La 'gentildonna' e liutista bolognese Lucia Garzoni in un ritratto di Lavinia Fontana." Recercare 33 (2021): 165-180.
Straussman-Pflanzer, Eve. "Gifts & Acquisitions." Art for the Nation no. 66 (Fall 2022): 18-19, repro.
Puglisi, Catherine. "Lavinia Fonatana: Trailblazer, Rule Breaker." Exhibition review. Woman's Art Journal44, no. 2 (Fall / Winter 2023): 72.

Related Content

  • Sort by:
  • Results layout:
Show  results per page
The image compare list is empty.