Three cheers for womankind with the victory of Michelle Payne, the first woman to win Australia’s most famous horse race, the Melbourne Cup, and even more cheers for Michelle’s post-race comment
that people who don’t rate women as jockeys (i.e. most of the industry) can “get stuffed.” Our pinup girl this week was luckier than Michelle and probably didn’t have to tell too many men to get stuffed (though she may not have got away with wearing jockey’s breeches and riding astride).*
Sofonisba Anguissola was born to a noble Genoese family in 1532, the eldest in a family that contained her talented sisters Elena, Lucia, Europa and Anna Maria. From an early age her talent was recognised: at 22 she met and impressed MIchelangelo and he acted as a mentor to her for the next few years. At 26 she was invited to be court painter to Philip II of Spain, and she spent the next 14 years there, receiving a royal pension that made her an independently wealthy woman. Widowed after a first marriage to a Sicilian nobleman, at the age of 51 she fell in love with a ship’s captain and lived happily with him for the next 40 years. She was still painting at the age of 90, though her sight was failing. Van Dyck visited her to talk about art, and painted her at the age of 92. She was highly praised by Vasari and said to be a major influence on Peter Paul Rubens.
*If you think the connection between the Melbourne Cup and art is odd, you might like to reflect on the belief of that one-of-a-kind Australian writer Gerald Murnane that “all art, including music, aspires to the condition of horse-racing”.