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Lavinia Fontana: Trailblazer Rule Breaker

Exhibition Identity


Lavinia Fontana: Trailblazer, Rule Breaker broke ground at National Gallery of Ireland as their first headline show dedicated to a female artist. The exhibition explored the extraordinary life and works of the 16th century Bolognese painter. Widely considered to be the first woman to work as a professional artist, which in itself defied gender conventions of the time, Fontana was also the first woman to paint public altarpieces, and female nudes.


Whilst acknowledging Fontana’s legacy and exploring themes of female representation, wealth and status, the show also foregrounded the strength and beauty of her work. Her home city of Bologna became a focus of our creative research, inspiring the rich colour scheme and offering insight into the cultural climate that enabled her to flourish as a female artist of the period, alongside the men and women she influenced and was enabled by.


Lavinia paved the way for professional female artists, creating a future for women in art. Featuring typography evocative of 16th century book titles, paired with a 20th century modernist sans, the title graphic celebrates this role as a change maker, while also creating the link between past and present - or between Lavinia’s life and the life of women in today’s society.