In this video we view highlights of the works of Artemisia Gentileschi, an important Italian painter of the Baroque era and a follower of Caravaggio – as well as one of the earliest female painters to enter the male-dominated artistic community of the time.
Artemisia was known for being able to depict the female figure with great naturalism, and for her skill in handling colour to express dimension and drama. Her works often feature women from myths, allegories and the Bible, including victims, suicides and warriors, and some of her best-known subjects are ‘Susanna and the Elders’, ‘Judith Slaying Holofernes’ and ‘Judith and Her Maidservant’.
Born in 1593 in Rome, Artemisia’s father was the painter Orazio Gentileschi with whom she studied as a young girl. For his part, Orazio recognised his daughter’s talents early on, writing in 1612 that she “has in three years become so skilled that I can venture to say that today she has no peer”.
Unfortunately, at 18, she was raped by the landscape painter Agostino Tassi – a friend of her father’s. In 1612, Tassi was convicted of the rape, but only served a year in prison.
Some years later, Artemisia moved to Florence with her husband in 1616, and continued to develop her style, while staying within the aesthetics expounded by Caravaggio. A peripatetic life followed.
In the following decades, she lived in Rome, Venice, Naples and London, where she worked as a painter for the court of Charles I, alongside her father. Her father’s death in 1639 and the English civil war, led Artemisia to leave the country, and she is thought to have died of the plague in 1653 in Naples.
For many years, Artemisia Gentileschi was regarded as a curiosity, but her life and art have been reexamined by scholars in the 20th and 21st centuries, and she is now regarded as one of the most progressive and expressive painters of her generation.
Today, her works are held in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the Prado Museum in Madrid and the Museo di Capodimonte in Naples, among others.
View the original video here.
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