|Alessandro Farnese was sixteen in the year this portrait was painted.|
Sofonisba Anguissola (c. 1532, Cremona – 16 November 1625, Palermo), Italian Renaissance painter. Born into the minor nobility, she was given an excellent education and was able to train with local artists in Cremona, both things being very unusual for a female of her time. She later traveled to Rome - where she studied, informally, with Michelangelo for two years - and Milan, by which time she was well established as an artist.
Isabel de Valois, the queen of Philip II of Spain, was a keen amateur painter, and Anguissola was invited to come to Madrid to be her tutor; she was also given the rank of lady-in-waiting. She later became official court painter to the king, and remained in Spain for fourteen years. After the queen's death, Philip arranged an aristocratic marriage for Anguissola, and she moved to Palermo, and later Pisa and Genoa, where she continued to practice as a leading portrait painter. Outliving her first husband, she married again. Wealthy and famous, as her sight deteriorated, she became a great patron of the arts. She died at the age of ninety-three.
|A portrait of Sofonisba Anguissola at the age of ninety-two - the year before her death - by van Dyck, 1624.|
Alessandro Farnese, Duke of Parma and Piacenza (27 August 1545, Rome – 3 December 1592, Arras), Governor of the Spanish Netherlands from 1578 to 1592, he is best known for his successful campaign of 1578-1592 against the Dutch Revolt, in which he captured the main cities of the south (in what is now Belgium) and returned them to the control of Catholic Spain. His mother was the half-sister of Philip II of Spain, and he was brought up with his Spanish cousins.