Inspiring women: Artemisia Gentileschi

Artemisia Gentileschi (1593–1652) is today considered one of the most accomplished painters in the generation influenced by Caravaggio. She was the first female painter to become a member of the Accademia di Arte del Disegno in Florence.


Her subjects included many strong (and suffering) female biblical figures. Judith Slaying Holofernes (1614-20) is probably her most recognizable work. And her biography is no less gruesome - she was raped by her private tutor (having been denied access to the all-male professional academies for art). And during the trial of her rapist, she was tortured as part of her questioning (apparently, to bolster evidence of her truth-telling).

Later, she moved to Florence and enjoyed great success, becoming a member of the Accademia di Arte del Disegno. She maintained good relations with the most respected artists of her time and was able to win the favours and the protection of influential people. She had a good relationship with Galileo Galilei with whom she remained in epistolary contact for a long time.

Ater her death, Artemisia drifted into obscurity, her works often attributed to her father or other artists. Art historian and expert on Artemisia, Mary D. Garrard notes that Artemisia "has suffered a scholarly neglect that is unthinkable for an artist of her calibre." Renewed interest in Artemisia recognized her as a talented seventeenth-century painter and one of the world's greatest female artists.

Book: Artemisia Gentileschi
Book: Artemisia: A Novel

Image: Self-portrait by Artemisia Gentileschi (1630s), Royal Collection, London via
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