July 8th, 2013

Happy Birthday to Artemisia Gentileschi

Artemisia Gentileschi (July 8, 1593 – c.1656), daughter of well-known Roman artist, Orazio Gentileschi (1563 - 1639), was one of the first women artists to achieve recognition in the male-dominated world of post-Renaissance art. In an era when female artists were limited to portrait painting and imitative poses, she was the first woman to paint major historical and religious scenarios.

Born in Rome, she received her early training from her father, but after art academies rejected her, she continued study under a friend of her father, Agostino Tassi. In 1612, her father brought suit against Tassi for raping Artemisia. There followed a highly publicised seven-month trial.

The trauma of the rape and trial impacted on Artemisia’s painting. Her graphic depictions were cathartic and symbolic attempts to deal with the physical and psychic pain. The heroines of her art, especially Judith, are powerful women exacting revenge on such male evildoers as the Assyrian general Holofernes. Her style was heavily influenced by dramatic realism and marked chiaroscuro (contrasting light and dark).

After her death, she drifted into obscurity, her works often attributed to her father or other artists. Renewed and overdue interest in Artemisia in recent years has recognized her as a talented seventeenth-century painter and one of the world’s greatest female artists.

Top imageSelf-portrait as the Allegory of Painting (Self-portrait as La Pittura), oil on canvas, 1638-9.

Bottom imageJudith Slaying Holofernes, oil on canvas, ca. 1614–20, Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence.

(Source: artemisia-gentileschi.com)

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    I have “Judith slaying Holofernes” on my bedroom wall next to the door because it’s not only a beautiful painting but a...
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