Italy's First Diva: Procaccini's Allegorical Portrait of the Actress Flaminia as Venus

Looking Closely Vol. 4

Orsola Posmoni Cecchini (ca. 1580–after 1633)—better known by her stage name, Flaminia—was one of the first women to find fame as an actress. A star of the commedia dell’arte, this prima donna delighted the theatregoers across Italy, while at the same time, episodes in her romantic life off-stage incited gossip, scandal, and perhaps even murder. Procaccini’s recently rediscovered portrait of the actress, shown in the guise of Venus, the ancient Goddess of Love, invites us to explore the spectacular world of the Italian Baroque theatre through the dramatic life of one of its foremost divas.


Watch our new video on Procaccini’s portrait of Flaminia here.


Read Kimberly Chrisman-Campbell and Virginia Brilliant’s study of the actress’s life and Procaccini’s portrait here.


Visit The V&A’s recent exhibition on the history of opera here.


Learn about the Commedia dell’Arte at The Metropolitan Museum of Art here.


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