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Artemisia Gentileschi Artemisia Gentileschi was revolutionary in the world of Renaissance artists for the superiority of her work

and her novel expressions of traditional subjects. Artemisia Gentileschi was born in Rome on July 8, 1593, the daughter of Orazio and Prudentia Monotone Gentileschi. In the wake of Prudentias sudden death when Artemisia was 12, her father began training her as an artist, and introduced her to the working artists of Rome, including Caravaggio, whose chiaroscuro style (contrast of light and shadow) would later greatly influence Artemisias work. By the time she was seventeen, Artemisia had produced her stunning interpretation of Susanna and the Elders (1610). Artemisias technique adhered to the realism of Caravaggio, while at the same time having aspects of the Bologna school present. In 1612, despite her early talent, Artemisia was denied access to the professional academies for art due to her gender. At the time, her father was working with Agostino Tassi, an expert on perspective, to decorate the "volte" of Casino della Rose inside the Pallavicini Rospigliosi Palace in Rome. In order to further Artemisias skill, Orazio hired the Tuscan painter to tutor his daughter privately in the art of perspective. During this tutelage, however, Tassi raped Artemisia. He attempted to placate her afterwards with a promise of marriage, but always avoided following through with that promise. When Orazio realized that Tassi had no intention of following through with his promise, he reported him to the authorities, suing him for injury and damage. The seven month trial that ensued was humiliating and traumatizing for Artemisia, who was forced to undergo gynecological examinations, and was tortured using a device made of thongs wrapped around the fingers and tightened by degrees a

particularly cruel torture to a painter. Both procedures were used to corroborate the truth of her allegation: the torture device used due to the belief that if a person could tell the same story under torture as without it, the story was true. Though Tassi was finally declared guilty, his sentence was less than a year in prison, after which Orazio once again invited him into the Gentileschi household. Artemisias pain and anger were not wasted, however. During and after the trial Artemisia created one of her most well known masterpieces, Judith slaying Holofernes (1612-1613) in response to her emotions. The painting is remarkable not only for its technical proficiency, but for the original way in which Gentileschi portrays Judith. The impressive violence interpreted as psychological revenge for what Artemisia had suffered. One month after the trial ended, in order to salvage Artemisias reputation, Orazio arranged for her to marry Florentine artist, Pietro Antonio di Vincenzo Stiattesi. Shortly after the marriage, they moved to Florence, where Artemisia thrived. Artemisia completed Judith and her Maidservant (1613-1614), and in 1616, Artemisia was made the first female member of the Academy of Design along with her husband. This extreme honor was most likely given due to the strong support she received from her Florentine patron, the Grand Duke Cosimo II de Medici, who commissioned her work often. Artemisias Florentine period was a time when she was able to begin and maintain good relationships with other respected artists and thinkers and even hold an epistolary relationship with Galileo Galilei. Among many honors bestowed upon Artemisia, one of the most notable was Buonarroti (Michelangelos nephew), busy with construction of a mansion to celebrate his notable relative, request of Artemisia to produce a painting to decorate the ceiling of the gallery of paintings. For this, Artemisia produced her famous Allegory

of the Inclination (1615-16) Despite her success, however, Artemisia and her husband acquired an excess of expenses, and the Florentine period was full of harassment from creditors financial problems and the death of her main patron, the Grand Duke Cosimo II de Medici, resulted in her return to Rome in 1621. It is believed that same year she moved to Genoa, accompanying her father who was invited there by a Genovese nobleman. While there she painted her first Lucretia (1621) and her first Cleopatra (1621-1622). She also received commissions in nearby Venice, and met Anthony Van Dyck. Gentileschi soon returned to Rome, and is recorded as living there as head of household with her daughters (In addition to Prudenzia (born from the marriage with Pierantonio Stiattesi) she had another natural daughter, probably born in 1627.) and two servants. While the details are unclear, she and her husband had separated and she eventually lost touch with him altogether. Artemisias Roman period was highly influenced by the style of Caravaggio, as well as the classicism of the Bolognese school and the Baroque style. During this stay in Rome, a French artist, Pierre Dumonstier le Neveu, made a drawing of her hand holding a paintbrush, calling it a drawing of the hand of "the excellent and wise noble woman of Rome, Artemisia." Her fame is also evident in a commemorative medal bearing her portrait made some time between 1625 and 1630 that calls her pictrix celebris or "celebrated woman painter." Also at this time, Jerome David painted her portrait with the inscription calling her "the famous Roman painter." However, despite her artistic reputation and her numerous good relationships, Rome was not as lucrative as she anticipated. The absence of sufficient documentation makes it difficult to follow

Artemisia's movements in this period. It is certain that between 1627 and 1630 she moved to Venice, perhaps in search of richer commissions. Though it is sometimes difficult to date her paintings, it is possible to assign to this period the Portrait of Gonfaloniere (1622), the Judith and her Maidservant (1625) notable for her mastery of chiaroscuro and tenebrism (the effect of extreme lights and darks). In 1630 Artemisia moved to Naples in search of new and more profitable job opportunities. In Naples, Artemisia started many new relationships with renowned artists with whom she started an artistic collaboration based on real friendship and artistic similarities. Artemisia, for the first time, was commissioned to commence working on paintings in a cathedral, dedicated to Saint Januarius in Pozzuoli (The Martyrdom of St Januarius in the Amphitheatre at Pozzuoli (1636-37)). During her first Neapolitan period she painted Corsica and the Satyr (1630-35). In 1638, Artemisia joined her father in London at the court of Charles I of England, where Orazio became court painter, and received the commission to decorate a ceiling (Allegory of Peace and the Arts (1638-39) )in the Casa delle Delizie of Queen Henrietta Maria of France in Greenwich. However, aiding her father was not Artemisias only motivation. Charles I had summoned her to his court, and it was an offer she could not refuse. Gentileschi was in residence at the English court from 1638 to 1641. Upon Orazio s sudden death in 1639, Artemisia continued various autonomous activities until the English Civil War broke out in 1641, whence she returned to Naples. Artemisia led a peaceful life until her death in 1653 at the age of 60.

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