by Melinda Gallo

Presentation of Invisible Women: Forgotten Artists of Florence

While the sun was setting behind the tall buildings in my neighborhood, I walked up via dei Neri and then up the street between the Uffizi and Palazzo Vecchio to meet my friend Lucia. We had planned to go to the first presentation of Jane Fortune's latest book, "Invisible Women: Forgotten Artists of Florence." After reading the two interviews of Jane Fortune in The Florentine in issues 110 and 111, I became very interested in the book. When I found out that the first presentation would be held in the Biblioteca degli Uffizi (Uffizi Library), I was even more excited. It's not a part of the Uffizi that is accessible to the public, so I couldn't wait to go.

Living in Florence :: Presentation of Invisible Women: Forgotten Artists of Florence

Lucia and I walked briskly under the loggiata of the Uffizi and through the glass door that was open. We darted up the steps and into the biblioteca. After the small entrance where there was a man sitting behind a desk, I turned to my left and saw the biblioteca. I had no idea what the biblioteca would look like and when I entered, my jaw dropped.

I love books and my dream is to have a room in my house with bookshelves on every wall of the room. The biblioteca degli Uffizi was my dream room, but of course it was much, much larger. The biblioteca was a large rectangular room with two levels of bookshelves up to the ceiling on the back walls and both sides of the room. The bookshelves enclosed rows and rows of books behind decorative metal grills. There were two long wooden desks with lights above for those who come to consult the books.

My friend and I sat down near the stage and listened to the presentation of Jane Fortune's book. I was a little distracted being in the biblioteca because it was just so stunning. I listened to everyone speak, but a few times I caught myself looking around the room in awe.

I learned that Jane's book uncovers the numerous Florentine women artists whose works of art are not on display anywhere, but are in museum deposits. Even the first women painter of Florence (who was born in Florence and died here) isn't even well known: Suor Plautilla Nelli.

Through her research, Jane has discovered that many Florentine women artists are invisible, and her dream is to now make these artists visible. The goal of her book is to educate people about these unknown women artists. Her next step is to create a space to put these women's pieces of art on display so that they will not only be admired, but appreciated by all.

I look forward to seeing the many pieces that have been in storage for many years and that the Florence Committee has funded to restore by female art restorers. It would be a joy to celebrate these women Florentine artists who have contributed to the city's heritage of art and history.

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