Artemisia Gentileschi Biography | Oil Paintings
7-8-1593 Rome, ITA – 1-16-1656 Naples, ITABack to Artist IndexView Artists Paintings
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. As talented as she was, that she was a woman painting in the seventeenth century and that she was raped and participated in prosecuting the attacker, long eclipsed her accomplishments as an artist.
Feminist studies in Universities increased the interest toward Artemisia's artistic work and life. Such studies underlined her suffering of rape and consequent abuse she lived with, and the expressive quality of her paintings of biblical heroines with women willing to manifest their resistance to their conditions.
Art Movement History: Baroque.
Artists Influencing Artemisia Gentileschi: Agostino Tassi, Caravaggio, Orazio Gentileschi.
She Traveled To England.
Artist's Biography compiled by Albert L. Mansour at The World's Artist.