Bolognese painter Lavinia Fontana was the most significant and prolific woman artist of Renaissance Europe. Her large and renowned body of work encompasses several genres, including altarpieces, history paintings, and portraits. This extensively illustrated book is the first comprehensive study of Fontana in the English language. Caroline P. Murphy assesses the relation of Fontana's native city Bologna to the artist's work and career, proposing that the unique attributes of the city, its religious and social climate, and the citizens who became Fontana's patrons contributed importantly to her success as an artist. The book discusses sixteenth-century Bologna's economics and emergent artistic culture, how and why Fontana became an artist, her crucial relationship with the noblewomen who became her most loyal patrons, both as married women and as widows, and the portraits and religious works she created for Bolognese children. Employing an especially varied set of source materials, from personal letters and property inventories to scientific treatises, the volume focuses bright new light on the Italian Renaissance world in which Lavinia Fontana lived and worked.