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Elizabeth A.Sackler Center for Feminist Art

Isabella Cortesi

Flourished circa 1560s, Venice

The correct spelling of this name is ISABELLA CORTESE.

Author of the first published treatise on cosmetics, the alchemist Isabella Cortese claimed to have come by her knowledge in her travels through eastern Europe. I secreti della Signora Isabella Cortese, which first appeared in 1561, was reprinted at least seven times up to 1677. Cortese was a shrewd marketer of her product—she insisted that readers keep her secrets secret, thereby ensuring a steady stream of new consumers.