Front view
Inv. No.S-1796
ArtistIrene Andessnerborn 1954 in Salzburg, Austria

"Elena Lucrezia Cornaro-Piscopia"

from the series: "Donne Illustri, Venice"

instant photograph (Polaroid)

Dimensions27,5 x 21,5 cm

signed, titled, dated and numbered on verso


Elena Lucrezia Cornaro-Piscopia (1646–1684)​
The World’s First University Graduate
Elena Cornaro was born in 1646 in Palazzo Loredan on Cornaro and Zanetta Boni, a woman of simple birth who became Gianbattista’s wife after giving him three illegitimate children. The Cornaro-Piscopia family owned palaces and lands in Venice and Padua, plantations in Cypress and businesses in all areas under Venetian influence. Instead of registry as a Venetian noblewoman, the young Elena was given an education in Greek and Latin, French and Spanish and even Hebrew and Aramaic. She studied history, literature, art and music, philosophy, mathematics, physics and astronomy. At seventeen she enjoyed a wealth of knowledge rivalled by few of her male contemporaries. In 1665 Elena broke her engagement with a nephew of the Doge arranged by her father, citing her vow of secretly broken at the age of eleven. Refusing the revocation proposed to her by Pope the title of “scholar” and to wear the clothes of a nun (beneath her court apparel), living a “secular life” in her father’s palace. Surrounded by luxury, she conducted a modest existence in the name of the church and devotion. While doing charitable work at the Hospital of San Lorenzo dei Mendicanti, she contracted “red fever” and, once cured, continued her studies from the family’s summer home in Padua. In 1670 she became president of the private Accademia dei Pacifisti in Venice. In the meantime, her father had become the Procuratore of San Marco and in 1677 obtained Elena’s admission to pursue her doctorate at the university of Padua. All of this at a time when women were retained inadequate to study the sciences. In 1678 Elena was named “Magistra et Doctrix Philosophiae” in an eleaborate ceremony similar can still see a plaque commemorating the World’s First Female University Graduate” in Calle del Carbon in Venice.

Donne Illustri
Caffà Florian on St Mark’s Square in Venice: in the “Sala degli Uomini Illustri” (salon of famous men) hang ten oil paintings by Giulio Carlini (1826–1887). Irene Andessner confronts these posthumously painted portraits of famous Venetians – from Marco Polo via Titian to Goldoni – with ten Venetian women, among them the city’s most famous composer (Barbara Strozzi) and painter (Rosalba Carriera) and the most expensive courtesan (Veronica Franco), as well as the first female doctor (Elena Lucrezia Cornaro Piscopia) and the world’s first female lawyer (Moderata Fonte). Through this intervention the Sala degli Uomini Illustri is transformed into the Sala delle Donne Illustri (salon of famous women). A picture puzzle-like disturbance: disregarding make-up, wardrobe, light, decoration and pictorial detail, Andessner’s portrayals differ from the historical picture references of the ten female figures in that she has not copied the bearing and look of the women, but rather of the men from the portraits hanging above. Thus the self-perception, the pre-potency of the male counterparts is broken. 
A further room, the Saletta Liberty, is turned into the “Moderata Fonte Room” with a Fonte/Andessner photographic full-length self-portrait in a light box. Opposite this portrait Andessner places a “Fonte” portrait painted in oil on canvas, for which she sat as model in the workshop of Marinella Biscaro.
“7 Gentildonne”: as a preliminary to the exhibition Andessner convenes a meeting of seven Italians in the Caffà Florian men’s salon – inspired by Moderata Fonte’s debate in the novel “Verdienst der Frauen” [merit of women], documented as a video work. In the photo production for the Venice project there are additional full-length portraits, which transpose into our time the historicised portrayals of women (only visible in oval bust details in the room installation) by means of complete styling. In these images it can also be seen that the artist has the camera shutter release in her hand; which means – in contrast to earlier productions – she releases the image herself in just that moment when she herself inwardly feels the particular role so fully that she is sure she is bringing the personality of that model woman perfectly to expression. This way of working corresponds to the historical Venetian women, who likewise developed and lived out their professions self-determined and self-employed, independent of men. The full-length self-portraits are executed as light boxes. 
The “Donne Illustri” project, curated by Stefano Stipitivich, takes place under the auspices of the Art Programme of the Caffà Florian. Started over 15 years ago by the caf» owner and art collector Daniela Gaddo Vedaldi, the series of exhibitions has so far represented artists such as Mimmo Rotella (1990), Fabrizio Plessi (1993 and 2001) and Luca Buvoli (1997)

S-1796, "Elena Lucrezia Cornaro-Piscopia"
Irene Andessner, "Elena Lucrezia Cornaro-Piscopia", 2003
S-1796, Front view
© Irene Andessner
S-1796, verso
Irene Andessner, "Elena Lucrezia Cornaro-Piscopia", 2003
S-1796, verso
S-0995, Irene Andessner, "Agnesina Morosini (9. Jhdt.)", 2003
Irene Andessner, "Agnesina Morosini (9. Jhdt.)", 2003
more infoS-0995, Front view
© Irene Andessner
S-0996, Irene Andessner, "Cecilia Venier-Baffo (1525 -1583)", 2003
Irene Andessner, "Cecilia Venier-Baffo (1525 -1583)", 2003
more infoS-0996, Front view
© Irene Andessner
S-0997, Irene Andessner, "Moderata Fonte (1555 -1592)", 2003
Irene Andessner, "Moderata Fonte (1555 -1592)", 2003
more infoS-0997, Front view
© Irene Andessner
S-1751, Irene Andessner, "Agnesina Morosini (9th Century)", 2003
Irene Andessner, "Agnesina Morosini (9th Century)", 2003
more infoS-1751, Front view
© Irene Andessner
S-1752, Irene Andessner, "Cecilia Venier-Baffo (1525-1583)", 2003
Irene Andessner, "Cecilia Venier-Baffo (1525-1583)", 2003
more infoS-1752, Front view
© Irene Andessner
S-1753, Irene Andessner, "Moderata Fonte (1555-1592)", 2003
Irene Andessner, "Moderata Fonte (1555-1592)", 2003
more infoS-1753, Front view
© Irene Andessner
S-1797, Irene Andessner, "Agnesina Morosini"

 , 2003
Irene Andessner, "Agnesina Morosini"  , 2003
more infoS-1797, Front view
© Irene Andessner
S-1798, Irene Andessner, "Barbara Strozzi", 2003
Irene Andessner, "Barbara Strozzi", 2003
more infoS-1798, Front view
© Irene Andessner
S-1799, Irene Andessner, "Catarina Cornaro", 2003
Irene Andessner, "Catarina Cornaro", 2003
more infoS-1799, Front view
© Irene Andessner
S-1800, Irene Andessner, "Cecilia Venier-Baffo", 2003
Irene Andessner, "Cecilia Venier-Baffo", 2003
more infoS-1800, Front view
© Irene Andessner
S-1801, Irene Andessner, "Elisabetta Querini-Valier", 2003
Irene Andessner, "Elisabetta Querini-Valier", 2003
more infoS-1801, Front view
© Irene Andessner
S-1802, Irene Andessner, "Marietta Robusti", 2003
Irene Andessner, "Marietta Robusti", 2003
more infoS-1802, Front view
© Irene Andessner
S-1803, Irene Andessner, "Moderata Fonte", 2003
Irene Andessner, "Moderata Fonte", 2003
more infoS-1803, Front view
© Irene Andessner
S-1804, Irene Andessner, "Rosalba Carriera", 2003
Irene Andessner, "Rosalba Carriera", 2003
more infoS-1804, Front view
© Irene Andessner
S-1805, Irene Andessner, "Veronica Franco", 2003
Irene Andessner, "Veronica Franco", 2003
more infoS-1805, Front view
© Irene Andessner