8 Father-Daughter Artist Duos Who Share a Creative Bond
Renaissance artists generally looked to their sons, not their daughters, to apprentice in their workshops and continue the family business. An established client base could easily be transferred to a male heir, who could retain the branding legacy of the father’s last name and enjoy a career uninterrupted by childbirth and domestic duties. For instance, Venetian painter
Though it was far less common for daughters to learn their fathers’ trade, it did happen. Indeed, women have trained in their fathers’ studios from the early Renaissance to the present. Some of these early female artists have been relegated to obscurity, their contributions to masterpieces lost in the oeuvre of a father who ultimately put his signature on the work. In a few more contemporary examples, though, daughters have outshined their fathers’ careers.
What follows are the stories of eight fathers and daughters whose artwork fueled a creative bond between them.
Paolo Uccello (1397–1475) and Antonia Doni (1446–1491)
In 15th-century Italy, there were generally two career options for women: wife or nun. Suor Antonia Doni, daughter of early Italian Renaissance painter
She learned how to draw from her father, who was a pioneer in his use of naturalistic perspective. Uccello’s biographer, the Italian
Vasari makes a passing reference to Antonia, noting that when Uccello died, “he left a daughter, who had knowledge of drawing.” Yet only one documented painting by the artist-nun survives, Investiture of Sister Cistercense (1490), in which the rectangular floor tiles and ceiling coffers hint at an inherited interest in representing a depth of space.
Jacopo Tintoretto (1518–1594) and Marietta Robusti (c. 1560–1590)
Marietta was the eldest of
Her skill was noted during her lifetime, garnering her local portrait commissions and invitations to the courts of Philip II of Spain and Emperor Maximilian II. Tintoretto did not allow her to leave Venice to accept the latter solicitations, however—a decision that art historians long read as a sign of paternal tenderness. (Contemporary feminist art historians such as Whitney Chadwick have interpreted it differently, suggesting that the senior artist was wary of losing such a capable assistant.)
Marietta’s career was tragically cut short due to her death during childbirth at age 30, and since she often worked with her father, it is difficult to attribute paintings solely to her.
Orazio Gentileschi (1563–1639) and Artemisia Gentileschi (1593–c. 1652)
Before 20th-century art historians revived interest in
When a newlywed Artemisia left her childhood home to move to Florence and branch out on her own, Orazio wrote to the grand duchess of Tuscany that his daughter “[has] become so skilled that I can venture to say that today she has no peer. Indeed, she has produced works which demonstrate a level of understanding that perhaps even the principal masters of the profession have not attained.”
Nicolas Moillon (c. 1555–1619) and Louise Moillon (1610–1696)
With a brood of seven children to support, French landscape and portrait painter Nicolas Moillon supplemented his income by working as an art dealer in Paris’s Saint-Germain-des-Prés neighborhood. The district was an enclave for Protestant artists from the Netherlands, who imported their tradition of tabletop still-life painting into France.
Moillon’s daughter, Louise, probably saw such works at her father’s shop, and drew influence from them for her own compositions. She went on to become a sought-out still-life painter during her lifetime. Indeed, Charles I of England owned five of Louise’s paintings by the time she was just 29 years old.
Louise’s production slowed down after she married and had three children, though her chosen genre made it easier to sustain her practice. Art historians have noted that still-life painting was well suited to women artists with domestic duties, since its subjects were easy to procure and could be painted at home.