Back to our Women's Wednesday! After a short break (flu season hit us hard!) we are once again ready to welcome yet another guest to our column dedicated to Boccaccio's De Mulieribus Claris. Our Mulier Clara today is Irene, a skilled painter.
Along with Thamyris, Irene is one of the six female artists of ancient times that Pliny the Elder mentioned in his Natural History. In addition to her profession, not much is actually known about Irene: it is said that she learned the craft from her father, Cratinus, and eventually surpassed him in both skill and fame. She is mostly credited with portraits that have since gone lost, such as the image of a girl once housed in Eleusis.
“Irene”, illumination from the manuscript “De Mulieribus Claris”, decorated by Robinet Testard, ms. Français 599, f. 53v, 1488-1496, Bibliothèque nationale de France, Département des Manuscrits, Paris.