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Artemisia Gentileschi


Available February 2022

Sheila Barker

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 Artemisia Gentileschi (1593–after 1654) was as exceptional as her paintings. She was a child prodigy, raised without a mother by her artist father, a follower of Caravaggio. Although she learned to paint under her father, she became an artist against his wishes. Later, as she moved between Florence, Rome, Venice, Naples, and London, her artistic style evolved, but throughout her career she specialized in large-scale, powerful, nuanced portrayals of women. This book highlights Gentileschi’s enterprising and original engagement with emerging feminist notions of the value and dignity of womanhood.

Sheila Barker’s cutting-edge scholarship in Artemisia Gentileschi clears a pathway for all audiences to appreciate the artist’s pictorial intelligence, as well as her achievement of a remarkably lucrative and high-profile career at a time when few women were artists. Bringing to light newly attributed paintings and archival discoveries, this is the first biography to be written by an authority on Gentileschi since 1999.

The volume is beautifully illustrated, and Barker weaves this extraordinary story with in-depth discussions of key artworks, such as Susanna and the Elders (1610), Judith Beheading Holofernes (c.1619–20), and Lot and His Daughters (1640–45). Also included is the J. Paul Getty Museum’s recent acquisition, Lucretia (c.1635–45). Through such works, Barker explores the evolution of Gentileschi’s expressive goals and techniques.

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). 

See the first title in this series, Luisa Roldán.

“Over the last thirty years Artemisia Gentileschi has received a good deal of attention, to which Sheila Barker’s beautifully illustrated monograph is an outstanding contribution, brimming over with fresh insights and revelatory comparisons on nearly every page . . . essential reading for everyone who has studied this artist, as well as anyone who wishes to begin to know her.”
—John T. Spike, author of Young Michelangelo: The Path to the Sistine and Caravaggio: Catalogue of Paintings 

“Sheila Barker paints a rich portrait of Artemisia’s early career . . . providing details of the artist’s life as well as the personalities she encountered. All in all, a major contribution to our understanding of Artemisia’s life and work.”
—Judith W. Mann, Curator, European Art to 1800, Saint Louis Art Museum

“Sheila Barker’s book provides a compelling and lively introduction to this endlessly fascinating, complex, and essential painter whose ambitious work challenged the gender-restricting conventions of her day by asserting her claim to be the equal of her male colleagues.”
—Keith Christiansen, Curator Emeritus, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

144 pages
7 1/2 x 10 inches
73 color illustrations
ISBN 978-1-60606-733-8

Getty Publications
Imprint: Getty Publications
Series: Illuminating Women Artists