This second volume in the groundbreaking Illuminating Women Artists series delves into the stirring life and work of the Baroque painter Artemisia Gentileschi.
The life of the Italian painter Artemisia Gentileschi (1593–1653) was as exceptional as her paintings. She was a child prodigy, raised without a mother by her artist father, a follower of Caravaggio, under whom she apprenticed. As a young woman, she was raped by her father’s assistant and faced torture during her attacker’s trial. Later, as she moved between Florence, Rome, Venice, Naples, and London, her artistic style evolved as she learned from the artworks and intellectuals she encountered, but throughout her career she specialized in powerful, nuanced portrayals of women. This gorgeously illustrated book traces Gentileschi’s development through a focus on pivotal paintings such as Susanna and the Elders (1610), Judith Decapitating Holofernes (1612–13), and Lot and His Daughters (1635–38). Notably, this is the first biography to be written by an authority on Gentileschi since 1999. It includes five newly discovered paintings and reveals for the first time the artist’s authorship of unpublished poems found in the Vatican Secret Archives. Exploring what it meant for Gentileschi to work as both an artist and a woman, Sheila Barker offers both a compelling life of an influential painter and a striking portrait of Italian Baroque culture.
Sheila Barker is director of the Jane Fortune Research Program on Women Artists in the Age of the Medici. She wrote the introduction to Lives of Artemisia Gentileschi (Getty, 2021) and is a contributor to Artemisia (2020).