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One of Nelli’s Twelve

Plautilla Nelli, Renaissance Woman

Nelli could only be a painter because she was a nun—the only way for women to get art commissions. Nelli was a true Renaissance woman though she violated many gender norms of her day by becoming a painter. Even though Nelli was not a cloistered nun for most of her life and could move outside the convent, she did not have the option to take her sketchbook out into the city streets and follow interesting types to draw as Leonardo did. Nelli identified herself as a painter both with signatures on some of her paintings as well as on convent rosters. Next to her name on these rosters are listed ”pittora” (painter) and ”madre pittora” (painter in charge of convent art workshop) next to her name. Her Last Supper follows Fra Bartolomeo’s tradition: ‘Pray for the Paintress’ she wrote next to her signature: Orate pro Pictora!

Plautilla Nelli’s Last Supper

It is the only known Last Supper  painted by an early woman artist.

The Man Who Knew Nelli’s Name

‘Art historian’ Giorgio Vasari meets Nelli and mentions her in his ‘Lives’.

Food for the soul

Last Supper themes were common but Nelli’s “table” is like none other.


By giving a voice to historic
women artists AWA rescues
and reclaims the ‘hidden half’
of Florence’s art.

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