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ArtemisiaGentileschi

 

Artemisia Gentileschi (Italian pronunciation: [arteˈmizja dʒentiˈleski]; July 8, 1593 – c. 1656) was an Italian Baroque painter, today considered one of the most accomplished painters in the generation following that of Caravaggio. 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.
She painted many pictures of strong and suffering women from myths and the Bible – victims, suicides, warriors.
Her best-known work is Judith Slaying Holofernes (a well-known medieval and baroque subject in art), which "shows the decapitation of Holofernes, a scene of horrific struggle and blood-letting". That she was a woman painting in the seventeenth century and that she was raped and participated in the prosecution of the rapist long overshadowed her achievements as an artist. For many years she was regarded as a curiosity. Today she is regarded as one of the most progressive and expressive painters of her generation.
Artemisia Gentileschi was born Artemisia Gentileschi-Lomi in Rome on 8 July 1593, although her birth certificate from the Archivio di Stato indicated she was born in 1590, the eldest child of the Tuscan painter Orazio Gentileschi and Prudentia Montone. Artemisia was introduced to painting in her father's workshop, showing much more talent than her brothers, who worked alongside her. She learned drawing, how to mix color, and how to paint. Since her father's style took inspiration from Caravaggio during that period, her style was just as heavily influenced in turn. Her approach to subject matter was different from her father's, however, as her paintings are highly naturalistic, where Orazio's are idealized. At the same time, Artemisia had to resist the "traditional attitude and psychological submission to this brainwashing and jealousy of her obvious talent". By doing so, she gained great respect and recognition for her work.
The first work of the young seventeen-year-old Artemisia was the Susanna e i Vecchioni (Susanna and the Elders) (1610, Schönborn collection in Pommersfelden). At the time some, influenced by the prevailing misconceptions, suspected that she was helped by her father. The painting shows how Artemisia assimilated the realism of Caravaggio without being indifferent to the language of the Bologna school, which had Annibale Carracci among its major artists. It is one of the few paintings on the theme of Susanna showing the sexual accosting by the two Elders as a traumatic event.
In 1611, her father was working with Agostino Tassi to decorate the vaults of Casino delle Muse inside the Palazzo Pallavicini-Rospigliosi in Rome, so Orazio hired the painter to tutor his daughter privately. During this tutelage, Tassi raped Artemisia. Another man, Cosimo Quorli, was also involved. After the rape, Artemisia continued to have sexual relations with Tassi, with the expectation that they were going to be married and with the hope to restore her dignity and her future. Tassi reneged on his promise to marry Artemisia. Nine months after the rape, when he learnt that Artemisia and Tassi were not going to be married, Orazio pressed charges against Tassi. Orazio also claimed that Tassi stole a painting of Judith from the Gentileschi household. The major issue of this trial was the fact that Tassi had taken Artemisia's virginity. If Artemisia had not been a virgin before Tassi raped her, the Gentileschis would not have been able to press charges. During the ensuing seven-month trial, it was discovered that Tassi had planned to murder his wife, had engaged in adultery with his sister-in-law, and planned to steal some of Orazio’s paintings. During the trial, Artemisia was subjected to a gynecological examination and torture using thumbscrews to verify her testimony. At the end of the trial Tassi was exiled from Rome, although they never carried out the sentence. The trial influenced the feminist view of Artemisia Gentileschi during the late twentieth century.[citation needed]
Artemisia was surrounded mainly by the presence of males since the loss of her mother at age 12. When Artemisia was 17, Orazio rented the upstairs apartment of their home to a female tenant, Tuzia. Artemisia befriended Tuzia; however, Tuzia allowed Agostino Tassi and Cosimo Quorlis to accompany Artemisia in Artemisia's home on multiple occasions. The day the rape occurred, Artemisia cried for the help of Tuzia, but Tuzia simply ignored Artemisia and pretended she knew nothing of what happened. Artemisia felt betrayed by Tuzia, and because Tuzia was the only female figure in her life, Artemisia's works contained a strong sense of the importance of solidarity and unity between women.[citation needed]
The painting called Mother and Child is attributed to those early years. The baby has been interpreted as an indirect reference to Agostino Tassi, her rapist, as it dates back to 1612, just 2 years after the rape. The painting appeared in a Swedish private collection during the 1960s. It depicts a strong and suffering woman and casts light on her anguish and expressive artistic capability.

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