The Female Virtuosa at the Grand Duchess’s Court
Vittoria della Rovere’s “matronage” of women artists and other female cultural producers, singers, musicians, actresses, writers and poets, lacemakers and embroiderers, who frequented her cultural salon at her favourite Villa del Poggio Imperiale, will be the focus of this chapter. The Grand Duchess Victoria was an active patron of the arts who especially favoured some of the most important female cultural producers of the period, sponsoring their creative work, and developing their talent via education. Some of these women were her ladies-in-waiting, while others were professional artists, writers and singers, whom Vittoria introduced to the Medici court. Unpublished archival material will introduce some of these women, whilst new light will be shed on the art and lives of others. I will also discuss Le Assicurate, the all-female literary academy Vittoria founded in Siena in 1654. I will argue that a matrilineal model of cultural transmission and knowledge transfer operated at the Grand Duchess’s court.