Not very much is known about Properzia de’Rossi, but the fact that she is the only female artists written about in Vasari’s Lives of the Artists lets us know that she was an important figure in the Renaissance.
While women artists during the Renaissance were unusual, “women sculptors were practically unheard of.” Because of this, the way Vasari writes about her is often more focused on the fact that she was a woman doing well in a “man’s art” than on her actual skill. “Considering how rare it was for women to pursue sculpture in the 16th century, it’s not difficult to imagine that de’ Rossi was at least a bit of a rebel. Vasari was just one of many Renaissance art historians who believed the graceful female body was unsuited to the physical demands of chiseling marble. ‘Even so,’ he admitted in an epitaph at the end of de’ Rossi’s chapter, ‘the marbles sculpted by her hand show what a woman can do with vigorous talent and skill.’”