Artemisia Gentileschi Biography | Oil Painting Reproductions

7-8-1593 Rome, ITA – 1-16-1656 Naples, ITA

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Gentileschi, Artemisia

Regarded by many as the finest of all female artists, Artemisia Gentileschi was born in Rome, where she was trained by her father, Orazio. Both artists were heavily influenced by Caravaggio, showing his fondness for unflinching realism and dramatic lighting effects. During her career, Artemisia worked in Florence, Naples, Venice, and also spent time in London helping her father complete a commission for Charles I.

During her lifetime, Artemisia Gentileschi was best known as a portraitist, but she has since become more famous for her powerful religious scenes. In these, she tended to focus on biblical women such as Susanna, Bathsheba, and Esther, but her favorite subject was Judith, the Jewish heroine who saved her people by beheading the enemy general Holofernes.

Artemisia Gentileschi produced at least six versions of this story Judith Slaying Holofernes, and, although the theme was popular with other female artists of the time, hers was undoubtedly the goriest. This has often been ascribed to a trauma in her own life for, at the age of 19, she claimed that she was raped by an artist from her father's workshop. A five-month trial ensued, during which Artemisia Gentileschi was tortured with thumbscrews in order to 'verify' her evidence.

In an era when women painters were not easily accepted by the artistic community or patrons, she was the first woman to become a member of the Accademia di Arte del Disegno in Florence. That she was a woman painting in the seventeenth century and that she was raped and participated in prosecuting the rapist, long overshadowed her achievements as an artist.

Feminist studies increased the interest toward Artemisia's artistic work and life. Such studies underlined her suffering of rape and subsequent mistreatment, and the expressive strength of her paintings of biblical heroines, in which the women are interpreted as willing to manifest their rebellion against their condition.

Art Movement History: Baroque
Artists Influencing Artemisia Gentileschi: Agostino Tassi, Caravaggio, Orazio Gentileschi
She Traveled To: England

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