Sunday, March 3, 2024

Celebrating a Neglected Italian Renaissance “Paintress”: Sofonisba Anguissola

Thursday, March 26th, 6:30 P.M.

Italian American Museum Presents

A Collaborative Presentation by

Dr. Snjezana Smodlaka, Prof. Louis Leonini & Mr. Louis Barrella

In Honor of Women’s History Month

Celebrating a Neglected Italian Renaissance “Paintress”

Sofinisba Albissola; self portait
Sofinisba Anguissola; self portait


A collaborative dvd presentation celebrating the life and art of neglected Italian Renaissance “paintress”, Sofonisba Anguissola.

Although the word “paintress” is an archaic definition for a female painter; and although she wasn’t “discovered” until the 1970’s, Sofonisba Anguissola was a fine Italian Renaissance artist whose life experiences defy the norm for women of her time.  She lived for 93 years, was recognized by Michelangelo and became a court painter for King Philip II of Spain and Lady-in-Waiting to his wife, Elisabeth of Valois.  Born in Cremona in 1532, she lived in Rome, Madrid, Pisa, Genoa and Palermo where she died in 1625.  This presentation will explore her wonderful expertise as an artist, along with her intelligence, determination and independent spirit.  We will also pursue the fascinating relationship she had with Elisabeth of Valois, daughter of King Henry II of France and Catherine de’ Medici. Historical perspectives and a connection to Verdi’s “Don Carlo” round out this diverse presentation of art, music, history, culture and real life escapades!


About the Presenters:

Born in Croatia, Dr. Snjezana Smodlaka obtained her B.A. in Italian Language and Literature and M.A. in Romance Philology at Zagreb University, Croatia.  She was Assistant Professor at the University of Zadar for eleven years. Thirty years ago she came to the USA to continue her research and obtained her Ph.D. in Italian Literature at Rutgers University. She worked as an Italian and Latin teacher for 24 years at St. Joseph Hill Academy; and as an adjunct at Wagner College, the College of Staten Island (CUNY) and Rutgers University.  She has published numerous articles on Italian language and literature; and presented more than 20 papers at international conferences in the US, Croatia, Italy, Austria, Spain and Germany.  For the last decade she has broadened her research on the study of the connections between Italian literature, art and music.

Professor Louis R. Leonini has a long association with Italian and Italian-American history and culture.  He has a Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts degree in Late Modern European History, along with 30 credits toward a PH.D.  His specialty is Italian studies.  Professor Leonini was a teacher for the N.Y.C. Dept. of Education for thirty two years.  He taught education courses at St. John’s University at both the Staten Island and Jamaica Queens Campuses.  He taught Italian and chaired the Foreign Language Department at St. Joseph Hill High School Academy on Staten Island. He is presently teaching Italian and Italian culture courses at St. John’s University at the Queens campus. Professor Leonini is an Italian language teacher and lecturer at the Garibaldi/Meucci Museum on Staten Island, and is a guest lecturer for many Italian American organizations in the tri-state area.

Louis Barrella has been a dedicated Music Educator for 45 years, receiving his B.S. in Music from Hunter College and M.A. in Music Education from Brooklyn College.  He taught Music and Opera Appreciation and conducted student performance groups for the N.Y.C. Dept. of Education for 34 years.  Most importantly, he has given workshops and organized student trips for the Education Department of the Metropolitan Opera since 1998 and continues to do so. He has been a Guest Lecturer at various Colleges and Universities; at the Garibaldi-Meucci, Enrico Caruso and Italian Culture Museums; the Westchester Italian Cultural Center, the Columbus Citizens’ Foundation, the Dante Alighieri and Mario Lanza Societies and at Casa Belvedere.  In 2003, he received the Dr. Leonard Covello Lifetime Achievement Award from The Italian Teachers’ Association for his Outstanding Contributions to Italian Culture.



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