A compendium of writings, letters, and records illuminating the life of Artemisia Gentileschi, the most influential female painter of the Italian Baroque.
Lives of Artemisia Gentileschipresents a fascinating look at the famous Baroque artist. Artemisia Gentileschi (1593–1653) was an Italian painter known for the naturalism with which she depicted the female body and her use of rich colors and chiaroscuro. Born in Rome, she was trained by her father, the painter Orazio Gentileschi, and was working professionally by the time she was a teenager. In a period when women artists very rarely achieved success in their field, she was commissioned by royalty across Europe and was the first woman to become a member of Florence’s prestigious Accademia delle Arti del Disegno, later becoming an educator in the arts.
Lending further insight into the extraordinary life of this trailblazing artist, this volume presents an absorbing collection of letters, biographies, and court testimonies supplemented with essays written by contemporaries, several of which are published here in English for the first time. The vivid illustrations include three works that have only recently been attributed to Gentileschi. An introduction by Sheila Barker, founding director of the Jane Fortune Research Program on Women Artists, contextualizes these texts and discusses Gentileschi’s legacy.
About the Author
Artemisia Gentileschi (1593–1653) was an Italian painter and the most ambitious and influential female painter of her time. She spread the Caravaggesque style throughout Italy and expanded the narrow possibilities for female artists. Artemisia was taught to paint by her father, Orazio Gentileschi, who painted directly on the canvas and used live models. Her paint-handling in her early works reflects her father's influence, yet she also departed from him by choosing to paint tense, dramatic narratives starring female heroines. In 1612, Artemisia left Rome for Florence, after taking part in a trial against her art teacher, Agostino Tassi, who allegedly raped her. Shortly after, she painted her interpretation of Caravaggio's Judith Beheading Holofernes, taking a more arresting and gruesome approach to the subject than was common at the time. In the 1620s, Artemisia was living again in Rome, making brief trips to Genoa and Venice and continuing to paint narrative paintings as well as female nudes, a subject shied away from by other female artists of the period. In 1630, Artemisia had moved to Naples where her style became less Caravaggesque and her themes turned to more conventional religious subjects. In 1638 Artemisia moved to London to care for her ailing father. From then on, her work was less frequent and poorly documented.
Orazio Gentileschi (1563–1639) was an Italian painter influenced by the younger artist, Caravaggio, although Gentileschi's work is characterized by a refinement and grace not seen in works by Caravaggio. Gentileschi was the son of a Florentine goldsmith, Giovanni Battista di Bartolomeo Lomi. He was proud of his father's Florentine origins and seems to have studied in Florence before moving to Rome. He thrived as a court painter and in the employ of nobility in Genoa, Paris, and London. He taught his daughter, Artemisia, to paint.
Cristofano Bronzini was an Italian author who wrote On the Dignity and Nobility of Women (1622).
Sir Théodore Turquet de Mayerne (1573–1655) was a famed Swiss physician, chemist, and writer whose patients included royalty and courtiers. He was friends with a number of artists and wrote a manuscript about the media and techniques of contemporary artists that included contributions from Rubens, van Dyck, and others.
Filippo Baldinucci (1625–1697) was an Italian businessman, art historian, and collector. He is considered one of the most significant Florentine art biographers of the Baroque period.
Sheila Barker is the founding director of the Jane Fortune Research Program on Women Artists.