Her royal patrons at last married their fair artist, now arrived to a mature age, to Don Fabrizio de Moncada, a noble Sicilian, giving her a dowry of 12,000 ducats and a pension of 1,000, besides many rich presents in tapestries and jewels. The newly wedded pair retired to Palermo, where the husband died some years after. Sofonisba was then invited back to the court of Madrid, but excused herself on account of her desire to see Cremona and her kindred once more. Embarking for this purpose on board of a Genoese galley, she was entertained with such gallant courtesy by the captain, Orazio Lomellini, one of the merchant princes of the “city of Palaces,” that she fell in love with him, and, according to Soprani, offered him her hand in marriage, which he accepted. On hearing of her second nuptials, their Catholic Majesties added 400 crowns to her pension.
SOFONISBA’S RESIDENCE AT GENOA, AND HER INTERCOURSE WITH VANDYCK.
After her second marriage, Sofonisba continued to pursue the art at Genoa, where her house became the resort of all the polished and intellectual society of the Republic. The Empress of Germany paid her a visit on her way to Spain, and accepted a little picture,—one of the most finished and beautiful of her works. She was also visited by her former charge, the Infanta, then the wife of the Archduke Albert, and with him co-sovereign of Flanders. That princess spent many hours in conversing with her of by-gone days and family affairs; she also sat for her portrait, and presented Sofonisba with a gold chain enriched with jewels, as a memorial of their friendship. Thus courted in the society of Genoa, and caressed by royalty, this eminent paintress lived to the extreme age of ninety-three years. A medal was struck in her honor at Bologna; artists listened reverentially to her opinions; and poets sang her praises. Though deprived of sight in her latter years, she retained to the last her other faculties, her love of art, and her relish for the society of its professors. Vandyck was frequently her guest during his residence at Genoa, in 1621; and he used to say of her that he had learned more of the practical principles of the art from a blind woman, than by studying all the works of the best Italian masters.