The Risk It Takes to Blossom

“The Childish Old Woman Makes the Young Woman Laugh” by Sofonisba Anguissola (1560-64) @ By Her Hand exhibit

Laughter and tears are both responses to frustration and exhaustion. I myself prefer to laugh, since there is less cleaning up to do afterward.

Kurt Vonnegut

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the art of stepping outside of one’s usual. Taking risks, trying new things. You know — innovating.

In that light, it seemed appropriate to share this piece from our recent trip to the DIA. Anguissola gained a fair amount of praise for this work, due to the originality of showing someone expressing laughter (which had not made an appearance in European art before her time). Such a compliment was rare, in particular for a woman painter, since women were generally regarded as being “incapable of artistic innovation.”


As absolutely fabulous as all of that is, the sweetness is mixed with a bit of the bitter considering the title, which was added by the publisher. The DIA curator’s take was that it seems to mock the idea of an older woman learning to read, and I have to say, I can definitely see it.

Nobody apparently knows how the artist herself felt about that decision, but I suspect she was less than amused.

Shot on Pixel 6 Pro.

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