“My illustrious lordship, I'll show you what a woman can do.”(Artemisia Gentileschi in a letter to Grand Duke Cosimo II de' Medici)
|Artemisia Gentileschi: "Judith Slaying Holofernes” (1614 – 1620)|
|Artemisia Gentileschi: "Judith and her Maidservant" (1614)|
It looks like the common or garden variant of psychology to conclude that Artemisia chose her sujets as a reaction to the acts of violence committed against her and her work is indeed characterised by the depiction of strong, independent female figures with the violent contrasts of light and dark of tenebrism. However, she was hard put to maintain her ground as a female artists in an age when many contemporaries thought women to be not intelligent enough to do men’s work, i.e. painting. And even if she was not the only Baroque female painter, she did not choose to do still lifes, landscapes or portraits but large-size history paintings like the best of her male contemporaries, versatile enough to adapt to the taste of her various Florentine, Venetian, Neapolitan and English patrons and surpassing most of the 17th century’s visual artists in the wake of Caravaggio’s distinctive tenebrism.
|Artemisia Gentileschi: "Self-Portrait as the Allegory of Painting" (1638 - 1639)|