In that regards, it was very useful for Borzello to really lay out the distinct history of self-portrature in a (significnatly!) more modern context than one I am familiar with.
I was surprised at the (contextual) modernity of many of the works, some of which did not seem to fit into what I think of as their 'stereotypical' period styles. This made me feel really excited and energised by the works, that women are doing innovative and wonderful things that push boundaries both by the style of their works and, probably most importantly, by the subject matter. Themselves.
The book also made me start thinking about what the purpose of my writing about the books I read is. It's difficult to step out of the 'academic' desire to review each book, but that is not what I want to achieve from these posts. I want to think about how the various things fit into the work that I am doing, not as an academic or an art historian, but as a practitioner. As a painter.
To that end, this book has inspired me to start thinking deeply about the way that I portray myself, about my desire to paint self-portraits. About tapping into some of the convetions that female artists have set down - I'm not a good musician, but the painting of self-with-piano, for example, can mean something incredibly telling for me as we have a piano at home and my husband plays. Thinking about the ways I can represent that while still playing on and with the convention set down by artists like Lavinia Fontana and Sofonisba Anguissola in the sixteenth century. Portraits with a closed piano in the background, or with my husband playing, back turned. Although this is something that I'd never considered before, reading about the way that women in the past have emphasised their competencies in a world that continually denied them agency has been incredibly thought provoking and inspiring.