This detail from Sandro Botticelli’s “Birth of Venus” (c. 1484-86) was painted with tempera on canvas.

The very first portraits by the Italian painters of the Renaissance featured stylized images of women. Ever since, images of the feminine have been practically an obsession with Italian writers and artists. From the Venus in pre-Christian times, to the Madonna, to the family Mother, to movie bombshells of the last century, the Italian woman continues to be an object of fascination and wonder.

Chuck Tampio will discuss this phenomenon when he returns to the Arizona Senior Academy at 3:30 p.m. Thursday (Feb. 16) with a new show called “Belissima.”

Bellissima explores these images and shows the seamless progression in art from the Madonnas of the early Renaissance, to the birth of Venus, to the portraits of aristocracy, to Sofia, Gina, Claudia and so many others. A special highlight of this presentation features four remarkable, but scarcely known female Italian artists.

Charles Tampio

Tampio’s background for this talk about Italian portraits of women includes his Sicilian ancestry and large Italian-American family. He was a student at the University of Florence and took courses from the noted Renaissance authority, Professor Abraham Vienus. Later he was a visiting professor at the University of Parma. Currently he is a docent at both the University of Arizona Museum of Art and the Tucson Museum of Art.

If you ask Tampio why focus on Italian women in art, he says one inspiration was the mother of the family he lived with in Italy who exemplified the great role Italian mothers have in managing food and family.  He notes the appearance of women in Italian churches, galleries, museums, and in advertising and magazines where one routinely sees the iconic images of Venus, the Madonna, the Mona Lisa, Gina Lolobrigida and other universally recognized “art-women.”

Written by Brack Brown, Academy Village Volunteer

More Info on attending an event
Academy Village is an active-adult community located off Old Spanish Trail six miles southeast of Saguaro National Park East. Its residents support the Arizona Senior Academy, a non-profit charitable organization whose mission includes offering free concerts and lectures to the public.

These events are held in the Great Room of The ASA Building adjacent to the Academy Village Community Center. Due to the popularity of cultural events, non-residents who wish to ensure priority seating are advised to make reservations by email at or by phone at (520) 647-0980. To learn more about the Academy, go to

Parking for visitors is in the lot behind the Community Center. All parking spaces in front of the Academy building are reserved.

‘Bellissima’ – The Feminine Ideal in Italian Art: February 2016