A professional painter and engraver by age seventeen, Sirani opened her own studio in Bologna early in her career, supported chiefly by private commissions.
She was so
prodigious an artist
In 17th century Bologna, which boasted such well known women artists as Properzia de' Rossi and Lavinia Fontana, Elisabetta Sirani was considered a virtuoso.
Several stories attest to Sirani's rapid working methods, such as when the Grand Duke Cosimo III de Medici visited her studio in 1664. After he watched her work on a portrait of his uncle Prince Leopold, Cosimo ordered a Madonna for
himself, which Sirani allegedly executed quickly so that it could dry and
be taken home with him.
She also befriended Picasso and Matisse long before they become famous.
Of her own works the best-known is 'Three Lives' (1908).
In 1850 the Stowes moved to Maine,
where her horror at the passing of the Fugitive Slave Law prompted her to write 'Uncle Tom's Cabin'.
After that she produced 11 more works of fiction and 23 assorted books including the "American Women's Home', 'Our Famous Women' and 'Lady Byron Vindicated' in defence of Noel Byron whom she met during a trip to England.
In 1775 she married the rich art dealer J.B.P. Lebrun, and achieved fame with portraits of courtiers including Marie Antoinette. During the French Revolution she fled to Italy, achieving great success with portraits of the royal family.
She then moved to Vienna and Petersburg and later visited England and Switzerland painting portraits of Lord Byron and Madame de Stael.
Returning to Paris she completed her life's work that included over 900 paintings, all of
She lived during the Enlightenment, when progressive thinkers believed that men were born with certain natural rights. Yet many did not believe that women should share in those rights.
Mary Wollstonecraft challenged this thinking and maintained that women could be equal to men given
the same opportunities. In 1787 she published 'Thoughts on the Education of Daughters' and
in 1792 'Vindication of the Rights of Women'.