Every day, for a week, I’m writing about the definitions of Creativity thinkers have offered throughout history and why each one cannot be the final definition. Yesterday I wrote about Fighting Entropy in the Renaissance.
While Leonardo Da Vinci and Michelangelo perspired, inspired, someone paid for the bread they ate and the shoes they walked in. Most 16th Century men with families to support and trade to conduct made no time for domain-alteration in Creative endeavors. The wealthiest men, patronized inspired, intellectual, hard-working men. Still, theoretically, all men could indulge in creative pursuit, even if only on the side.
But the woman who made salads for Da Vinci or washed Michelangelo’s bed-sheets could not, at least theoretically. A women painting heart-stopping biblical violence in oil or discovering mathematical theorems was as likely as a wild dog chanting prayers in a monastery.
Yet, a handful of women in the Renaissance did alter their domains.
Artemisia Gentileschi, member of the Accademia di Arte del Disegno in Florence, spent 10,000 hours as a child in her father’s busy studio. In her father’s shadow, and under his loving direction, she lived and breathed all things Caravaggio and was able to say,
As long as I live I will have control over my being.
Self-control, not a woman’s privilege in the Renaissance, is a must-have of Creativity. Gentileschi knew this and presented her Creative gift wrapped in the cloak of womanhood.
My illustrious lordship,
I’ll show you what a woman can do.
By age 7, Elena Piscopia spent her days with her father, among books: Latin and Greek, grammar and music before lunch, then Hebrew, Spanish, French, and Arabic.
She tackled mathematics and astronomy, philosophy and theology. Awed by her progress, Elena’s father insisted she attend the University of Padua, whose motto was Universal Freedom, to continue her studies. In 1678, she graduated, the first woman to receive a university diploma ever — Elena Lucrezia Cornaro Piscopia, who earned the Doctor of Philosophy and Mathematics. She stayed on as a professor to lecture behind a curtain to prevent other University attendants from seeing her face to face.
Both ladies worked long and hard, both were inspired initially by their fathers and both were highly intellectual, and they also had self-control and someone who truly believed they were capable, both gifts in their time, yet ultimately indispensable to Creation.
Filed under: Creativity: Historical Perspective, Defining Creativity, Must Haves of Creativity, What is Creativity Tagged: | Complex Families, Creative Environments, Definiting Creativity, Definitions, General Theory of Creativity, Gifted Children, Perspiration, Renaissance