Artemisia Lomi Gentileschi (1593 - 1654) is the most celebrated female painter of the 17th century

17th century art artemisia artist baroque caravaggio female gentileschi italian italy painter rome Feb 21, 2022

Artemisia Lomi Gentileschi (1593 - 1654) 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


Her father, Orazio Gentileschi was a painter from Pisa. He took inspiration from the innovations of Caravaggio, and painted real models, elevating them with a sense of drama.  


When her mother died when she was fifteen, she started to work alongside her brothers in her father's workshop where she learned to draw, mix colour and paint.


As soon as she entered the studio she  was producing professional work and became known for her exemplary talents.


Unfortunately she suffered a dreadful setback when she was victim of a serious sexual assault.  A meticulous record of the trial found her attacker guilty but his punishment was never enforced.


Following the trial, Artemisia established herself as an independent artist. 


In an era when women had few opportunities to pursue artistic training or work as professional artists, Gentileschi was the first woman to become a member of the Accademia di Arte del Disegno in Florence. 



She was inspired by the style of her father, but took a more naturalistic approach to her figurative work.


The painting shows how Artemisia used the realism and chiaroscuro effects used by Caravaggio while taking on a flavour of classicism and the Bolognese School of Baroque style.


This painting represents an art-historical innovation: it is the first time in which sexual predation is depicted from the point of view of the predated. With this painting, and with many other works that followed, Artemisia claimed women’s resistance of sexual oppression as a legitimate subject of art.



Many of Gentileschi's paintings feature women from myths, allegories, and the Bible, including victims, suicides, and warriors.


She is regarded as one of the most progressive and expressive painters of her generation

In 1612, Gentileschi moved to Florence and began working for the Medici family. 


Her involvement in the courtly culture in Florence not only provided access to patrons, but it widened her education and exposure to the arts.


 She learned to read and write and became familiar with musical and theatrical performances. 


In 1920 she relocated to Rome. She was excluded from large scale Papal commissions but her career flourished under the patronage of several wealthy residents. 


Due to the variety of patrons she explored a variety of styles and the ideas of other artists working in Rome at the time.  


Artemisia has been a much discussed figure in art history. The   traumatic events of her early life sometimes overshadowed her incredible achievements. Her notoriety has prompted artists, filmakers and poets to seek inspiration from her.  


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