|Fontana was taught by her father, Prospero, a successful cosmopolitan painter who had worked in Rome and Florence. Although historically important as a painter of religious works, she achieved her greatest fame for portraits of Bolognese noblewomen. Her style combines a careful attention to the details of clothing and jewelry with an insight into the sitter's personality. Fontana was not merely active but unusually successful, becoming the first female from Bologna to achieve fame throughout Italy. She produced 135 documented paintings. Perhaps most important, she expanded the range of work made available to women painters, receiving commissions from both the private and public sectors.