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Rare 16th century example of a painting authored and commissioned by women revealed
‘The Crucifixon’ the first large scale painting on this subject realised by a female artist in the 16th Century.

FLORENCE.- ‘The Crucifixion’ by Plautilla Nelli restored and brought to light by Advancing Women Artists Foundation and now on display at the Last Supper Museum of Andrea del Sarto in Florence which in recent years has become a collection point for the restored works of Plautilla Nelli.

Plautilla Nelli born in Florence in 1524, a self-taught artist known as the first recognized female painter in Renaissance Florence. At the age of fourteen Nelli joined the convent Caterina da Siena located in Florence. She spent her life as a nun and an artist and taught art at her all-female workshop. Commissioned by many in Florence at the time to paint religious subjects, Giorgio Vasari would write of Nelli in his book ‘The Lives’ “She made so many paintings for the homes of Florentine gentlemen that it would be tedious to list them all here”.

Nelli also made paintings for women such as Arcangela Viola, Prioress at Santa Caterina da Siena. Commissioned by the Prioress in the 1570’s Nelli produced three works based on her own religious visions. Two pieces depicting Saint Dominic and Saint Catherine restored by AWA, Rosella Lari conservator completed the latter in 2009. ‘The Crucifixion’ now restored and the central piece completing the lunette trilogy.

‘The Crucifixon’ the first large scale painting on this subject realised by a female artist in the 16th Century. Nelli was one of the few artists of her time who painted large-scale religious subjects. Forbidden at the time for women to study the male nude, it is believed that Nelli had been given the opportunity to study this subject matter as she inherited the drawings of Fra Bartolomeo, a renaissance painter and who joined the Domincan order in 1500.

Hidden from public view for nearly 450 years, one now has the opportunity to witness these three lunettes as commissioned originally. They will be permanently on display at the San Salvi Museum in Florence.

Advancing Women Artists (AWA), an American based non-profit 501(c)(3), organization founded by the late Jane Fortune has spent over a decade researching, restoring and exhibiting works by women in Florence.

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