Artemisia Gentileschi

Artemisia Gentileschi

Artemisia is the most celebrated female painter of the 17th century. She worked in Rome, Florence, Venice, Naples and London, for the highest echelons of European society, including the Grand Duke of Tuscany and Philip IV of Spain.


Who Was Artemisia Gentileschi?

Centuries ahead of her time, Artemisia Gentileschi was one of the first and only female artists to achieve success in the seventeenth century. Following in the footsteps of Caravaggio, her Baroque paintings were some of the most dramatic and dynamic of her generation and she became known for her realism, her accomplished use of Chiaroscuro, and for placing women and their stories at the center of all her images. Her surviving works present a unique personal perspective on the cultural and social norms of the period, norms which she often intentionally inverted, using her position as an artist to comment on the male-dominated nature of society and to place an alternative focus on female agency.


Artemisia Gentileschi Paintings:


‘Susanna and the Elders’ 1610

This accomplished painting is the first work known to be entirely painted by Artemisia Gentileschi, completed when she was 17 years old. The work shows a frequently depicted biblical scene: two voyeuristic elders spy on the virtuous Susanna while she is bathing, then attempt to blackmail her into having sexual relations with them with false accusations of adultery. 


‘Judith Slaying Holofernes’ 1620

In this painting, Gentileschi depicts another popular biblical scene (which she herself returned to more than once during her career): the slaying of Holofernes by Judith. Traditionally portrayals had focused on the beauty and courage of Judith rather than the process of the beheading itself.


‘Self-Portrait as the Allegory of Painting’ 1638-39

In this confident later work, Artemisia Gentileschi presents an allegory of painting using her own self-portrait as the subject.

Painting was traditionally presented as a woman in allegorical scenes, giving Gentileschi a unique opportunity as a professional woman artist to present herself in the role. 


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