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Gentileschi, ArtemisiaDate of birth and death: 1593 - 1652/53
Nationality: ItalianUploaded artworks: 12
Artemisia Gentileschi was an Italian Early Baroque painter, today considered one of the most accomplished painters in the generation influenced by Caravaggio (Caravaggisti). In an era when women painters were not easily accepted by the artistic community, she was the first female painter to become a member of the Accademia di Arte del Disegno in Florence. She was one of the first female artists to paint historical and religious paintings, at a time when such heroic themes were considered beyond a woman's reach.
Artemisia Gentileschi was born in Rome, in 1593, the first child of the tuscan painter Orazio Gentileschi, one of the best representatives of the school of Caravaggio. Artemisia was introduced to painting in her father's workshop, showing much more talent than her brothers, who worked alongside her. She learned drawing, how to mix color and how to paint. Since her father's style took inspiration from Caravaggio during that period, her style was just as heavily influenced in turn. But her approach to subject matter was different from her father's, as her paintings are highly naturalistic, where Orazio's are idealized. The first work of the young 17-year-old Artemisia (even if many at the time suspected that she was helped by her father) was the Susanna e i Vecchioni (Susanna and the Elders) (1610). The picture shows how Artemisia assimilated the realism of Caravaggio without being indifferent to the language of the Bologna school. It is one of the few Susanna paintings showing the two men planning their sexual harassment. It is likely that Artemisia had been sexually harrassed and painted Susanna as a reflection. In 1612, despite her early talent, Artemisia was denied access to the all-male professional academies for art. At the time, her father was working with Agostino Tassi to decorate the vaults of Casino della Rose inside the Pallavicini Rospigliosi Palace in Rome, so Orazio hired the painter to tutor his daughter privately.
Orazio arranged for his daughter to marry Pierantonio Stiattesi, a modest artist from Florence. Shortly afterwards the couple moved to Florence, where Artemisia received a commission for a painting at Casa Buonarroti and became a successful court painter, enjoying the patronage of the Medici family and Charles I. It has been proposed that during this period Artemisia also painted the Madonna col Bambino (The Virgin and Child), currently in the Spada Gallery, Rome.
While in Florence, Artemisia and Pierantonio had four sons and one daughter. But only the daughter, Prudenzia, survived to adulthood — following her mother's return to Rome in 1621 and later move to Naples. After her mother's death, Prudenzia slipped into obscurity and little is known of her subsequent life. In Florence, Artemisia enjoyed huge success. She maintained good relations with the most respected artists of her time, such as Cristofano Allori, and to be able to conquer the favours and the protection of influential people, starting with Granduke Cosimo II de' Medici and especially of the Granduchess Cristina. She had a good relationship with Galileo Galilei with whom she remained in epistolary contact for a long time. She was esteemed by Michelangelo Buonarroti the younger (nephew of the great Michelangelo): busy with construction of Casa Buonarroti to celebrate his notable relative, he asked Artemisia to produce a painting to decorate the ceiling of the gallery of paintings. Notable works from this period include La Conversione della Maddalena (The Conversion of the Magdalene), and Giuditta con la sua ancella (Judith and her Maidservant). Artemisia painted a second version of Giuditta che decapita Oloferne (Judith beheading Holofernes), this one larger than the Naples version. Despite her success, due to an excess of expenses by her and her husband, the Florentine period was full of problems with creditors and with her husband. These problems led to her return to Rome in 1621. Artemisia arrived in Rome the same year her father Orazio departed for Genoa. Some believe that Artemisia followed her father there; while there is not enough evidence for this, this time together would have accentuated the similarity of their styles, which makes it often difficult today to determine which of the two painted certain works. Most of the evidence supports the notion that Artemisia remained in Rome, trying to find a home and raise her daughters. In addition to Prudenzia (born from the marriage with Pierantonio Stiattesi) she had another natural daughter, probably born in 1627. Artemisia tried, with almost no success, to teach them the art of painting. Caravaggio's style, though the master had been dead over a decade, was still highly influential and converted many painters to his style (the so-called Caravaggisti) such as Artemisia's father, Carlo Saraceni (who returned to Venice 1620), Bartolomeo Manfredi, and Simon Vouet. However, painting styles in Rome during the early 17th century were diverse, a more classic manner of the Bolognese disciples of the Carracci and the baroque style of Pietro da Cortona. It appears that Artemisia was also associated the Academy of the Desiosi. In the same period she became friends with Cassiano dal Pozzo, a humanist, collector and lover of arts. In 1630 Artemisia moved to Naples, a city rich with workshops and art lovers, in search of new and more lucrative job opportunities. Many other artists, including Caravaggio, Annibale Carracci, Simon Vouet had stayed in Naples for some time in their lives, and at that time, Jusepe de Ribera, Massimo Stanzione, and Domenichino were working there and later, Giovanni Lanfranco and many others would flock to the city. The Neapolitan debut of Artemisia is represented by the Annunciation in the Capodimonte Museum. She remained in Naples for the remainder of her career with the exception of a brief trip to London and some other journeys. Naples was for Artemisia a kind of second homeland where she took care of her family (both her daughters were married in Naples). She received letters of appreciation, being in good relations with the viceroy the Duke of Alcalá and started relations with many renowned artists, among them Massimo Stanzione, with whom, the eighteenth-century writer Bernardo de' Dominici reports, she started an artistic collaboration based on a real friendship and artistic similarities. In 1638 Artemisia joined her father in London at the court of Charles I of England, where Orazio became court painter and received the important job of decorating a ceiling (allegory of Trionfo della pace e delle Arti (Triumph of the peace and the Arts) in the Casa delle Delizie of Queen Henrietta Maria of France in Greenwich. Father and daughter were once again working together, although helping her father was probably not her only reason for travelling to London: Charles I had convoked her in his court, and it was not possible to refuse. Orazio suddenly died in 1639. Artemisia had her own commissions to fulfill after her father's death, although there are no known works assignable with certainty to this period. It is known that Artemisia had already left England by 1642, when the civil war was just starting. Nothing much is known about her subsequent movements. Historians know that in 1649 she was in Naples again, corresponding with Don Antonio Ruffo of Sicily who became her mentor and good commitment during this second Neapolitan period. The last known letter to her mentor is dated 1650 and makes clear that she was still fully active. Artemisia was once thought to have died in 1652/1653.
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