Life of Artemisia Gentileschi
Italian Baroque painter, Artemisia Gentileschi was born in Rome on July 8th, 1593. Her father Orazio Gentileschi, who was a painter himself, introduced Artemisia to the art of painting by giving her lessons in his studio. At an early age, Artemisia displayed her interest in art and it wasn’t long until her father noticed potential in his daughter enough that she would be able to make a name for herself in the male-dominated career. Artemisia had the desire to follow in her father’s footsteps, it was then that Orazio encouraged her to follow her dreams and decided to begin training her as an artist.
After collaborating on a project with the painter Agostino ...view middle of the document...
Tassi was found guilty and sentenced to exile, but he never served his punishment.
After the trial, Orazio was in desperate need to save his daughter’s reputation and quickly arranged a marriage with Pierantonio Stiattesi. In 1616, Artemisia became the first woman artist to join the Accademia delle Arti del Disegno. She pursued her career in Florence, Rome, Venice and Naples where she received many commissions and it was in Naples, where she opened up a workshop of her own. In the 16th century, women wanting to become an artist were often ignored because it was believed that women didn’t have the intelligence of a man to become a successful. There were two things that would make it easier for a woman to become an artist and that was if you were born into a family of artists or if you were born into a wealthy family to be taught. Nonetheless, it was a difficult road to pursue. Fortunately for Artemisia, her father’s career gave her access to connect with many artists and of course, he owned a studio where she could be taught. Although she may have had many commissions for being a female, Artemisia was hardly paid the amount she asked for her work just because of her gender. There had been times where patrons would ask for a sketch of her idea for a commission and then ask a male artist to do it for a lower price because they felt that she was asking for too much.
In 1610 at the age of 17, Susanna and the Elders (see Figure 1) was Artemisia’s first completed artwork. According to the Book of Daniel, while Susanna was bathing, two elders invaded her privacy and gave her an ultimatum, if she didn’t agree to have sex with them, then they would accuse her of adultery. Susanna said no and the elders did what they promised, she was later sentenced to death for having committed adultery. Fortunately for Susanna, she was later proved innocent after the elders disagreed about what tree the adultery had taken place supporting the fact that they were lying. I’ve seen Alessandro Allori’s take on this story, and in painting he depicts Susanna as a rather flirtatious towards the men. Instead of Susanna pushing herself away from the men like in Gentileschi’s painting, Allori’s Susanna is allowing them to get near her without a fight, even adding the hand gesture of caressing their faces and pulling them in towards her. Even the facial expressions give the audience a different vibe, Gentileschi made Susanna appear scared and disgusted as the elders try to silent her and I feel uneasy just looking at it. On the other hand, Allori made Susanna seem flattered and enjoying the attention, feels as if this story isn’t about a rape but consensual. Since the rape trial happened about 2 years before this painting, I believe this has nothing to do with the incident. Maybe it was a coincidence, but I find it strange how Artemisia painted a story of a potential rape and little did she know she was...