Artemisia Gentileschi Most Famous Paintings
Artemisia Gentileschi one of the most prominent women artists during the Baroque period.
Who is Artemisia Gentileschi?
Artemisia Gentileschi was an Italian Baroque painter, born in 1593, and is today recognized as a leading woman artist in the 17th century. She is even described as the boldest female artist of the Baroque era because of her dramatic renditions of classical and biblical themes in her art. She was the first female member of the Academy of Painting, in Florence in 1616.
Her earliest work, "Susanna and the Elders," was painted in 1610, Artemisia Gentileschi's famous paintings were dramatic compositions highlighting women either as heroines or victims, such works as "Cleopatra" and "Judith Slaying Holofernes". Gentileschi painted in Florence, Rome, and Naples and gained the patronage of powerful families such as that of Cosimo de Medici, grand duke of Tuscany.
She also worked on a commission in 1627, from King Philip IV of Spain. In 1639, Artemisia Gentileschi went to England to work with her father. He was commissioned by Queen Henrietta Maria, wife of Charles I of England, to do paintings for her home in Greenwich. The themes of Artemisia's paintings were religious themes or classical themes. These were themes in Baroque art, which were encouraged to flourish by the Catholic Church, then in its Reformation period.
Her realistic paintings reflect the strong influence of Caravaggio, precursor of the chiaroscuro style in Baroque in art, whose religious themes are depicted in the contemporary setting of the Baroque era in Italy. The settings of her classical and religious themes are in 17thc Italy, their heroic moments are depicted with the realism of her contemporary time.
It is only recently that women artists during the Renaissance and Baroque periods, few though they are, have been recognized by art historians and their works exhibited in museums, revealing their strong individualistic personalities in their distinctive styles. Artemisia Gentileschi's famous paintings stand out in her themes and rendition of dramatic stories of heroines, in compositions using the dramatic dark and light effects of the Baroque artist Caravaggio.
As an artist, her themes and rendition stand out in our day. Her choice of themes and the manner of her rendition show her strong individualism as reflected in Artemisia Gentileschi's famous paintings.
This has been described as early feminism at a time when feminism was not yet drawn as a theory; her works expressing women's emotions through her art and asserting her individuality as a woman artist. During the Renaissance, Baroque and Mannerist periods, women artists confronted the challenge of being overlooked, of their work being undervalued. It was the male artist who was given the title of virtuoso or "male god".
All renowned artists who made their mark in art history were male artists, in forging new styles, perspectives, themes. Women artists were unknown in the archives of art history until the 1900s. Artelemeschi Gentileschi's famous paintings show her artistic prominence which deserved the patronage of ruling families and rulers of her time.
Her works also show her feminist perspective, both in interpreting the themes and in her highly skilled renditions of the dramatic scenes and poses of the heroines And Artemisia, with her high skills as an artist contended with the values of her time, which relegated women's talents and value into the background, belittled the value of women's art.
This is what Artemisia constantly struggled with, especially when as a single parent after her husband left her and her daughter, she had to work on commissions. In her life as an artist, Artemisia Gentileschi's famous paintings are proof that she stood up, on her artistic merit, to the challenges in an art world dominated by men.
Here are 15 of Artemisia Gentileschi's most famous paintings:
- Susanna and the Elders by Artemisia Gentileschi
- Madonna and Child by Artemisia Gentileschi
- Mary Magdalene by Artemisia Gentileschi
- Judith Slaying Holofernes by Artemisia Gentileschi
- Judith and her Maidservant by Artemisia Gentileschi
- Jael and Sisera by Artemisia Gentileschi
- Venus and Cupid by Artemisia Gentileschi
- Esther and Ahasuerus by Artemisia Gentileschi
- Danae by Artemisia Gentileschi
- Lucretia (Lucrezia) by Artemisia Gentileschi
- Corisca and the Satyr by Artemisia Gentileschi
- Portrait of a Gonfaloniere by Artemisia Gentileschi
- Cleopatra by Artemisia Gentileschi
- Artemisia Gentileschi Self Portrait as the Allegory of Painting
- The Birth of Saint John the Baptist by Artemisia Gentileschi
Artemisia Gentileschi Artworks
Art historians compared Artemisia Gentileschi with artists who have painted the subject of Susanna. The rendition by Artemisia gave a more feminine character to Susanna whose innocence and resistance to the seduction were shown in her awkward pose.
Her work is often compared to the painting by her contemporary Italian artist Caracci which featured a masculine Susanna who responded erotically to the seduction of the two older men. The story of Susanna is taken from the bible; a woman harassed by two elderly men is accused of adultery when she resists them. Artemisia's work shows this conflict vividly and realistically.
The classical style for Susanna’s body reflects more the action of a heroine. Metaphorically, Artemisia shows the older men as a dark element on top of the scene. bearing pressure on Susanna. Artemisia adds a psychological dimension to the story, which she does as a woman painter who understands the crisis undergone by the woman victim, Artemisia then dramatically portrays the harassment being seriously experienced.
Madonna and Child by Artemisia Gentileschi
The painting Madonna and Child was rendered when Artemisia was 20 years old. The theme of the power of women prevalent in Artemisia's art is captured in realistic detail and naturalism.
The partial nudity of Mary focuses on her maternal role, that of nurturing, of sustaining a child's life. Her physical female strength as a mother is rendered in the size of Mary's body. The painting uses the chiaroscuro style in the intense shadow of the backdrop and gives sensitive highlight to the bond between mother and child. Baroque detail is shown in Mary's pink and turquoise clothes.
The painting is done in Florence. Here, Artemisia develops and perfects her sense of color through portraits and paintings. One such work is the Conversion of Magdalene which also is her first step towards artistic distinction.
She renders the sensuality of Magdalene and her faith and conversion in a delicate balance which is shown in her dress and her clutching of her breast. Artemisia Gentileschi left Florence in 1620-1621. By then, she had accomplished seven paintings for Cosimo II de Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany.Ci
Judith Slaying Holofernes by Artemisia Gentileschi
Gentileschi painted "Judith Slaying Holofernes," which shows Judith in the act of saving the Jews by killing Assyrian general Holofernes. the painting shows a close-up of this brutal scene—Judith slicing Holofernes's throat while her handmaiden helps to hold him down.
Soon after finishing this work (around 1613), She was 20 years old then and in her youth, shows a skillful portrayal of body movement and human emotions. She portrayed Judith's courage, expressed the physical demands of the act as being done by women.
The work is also a portrayal of the power and courage of women, somehow reflecting Artemisia's assertion of her artistic power to treat subjects in her style and interpretation. .The composition uses chiaroscuro, highlighting color and the white and dark background.
Judith and her Maidservant by Artemisia Gentileschi
Artemisia Gentileschi again dwells on the story of Judith. The painting is rendered in the style of high Baroque. It shows a sense of mystery through its dramatic composition of light and shadow and shows the attempt of Judith and her maid to escape the scene; the servant holds a basket with Holofernes' head in it. The inner scene is lighted by a candle.
There is tension when a noise is heard outside the tent of Holofernes. Judith shuns the glow of the candle by covering her face from the candlelight. The viewer sees the iron gauntlet of Holofernes. The event happens in biblical times but the scenario is that of 17th century Italy, a typical rendition in Baroque style.
This theme, taken from the Book of Daniel, is rarely depicted in the 17th century. The painting shows the moment when Jael will murder Sisera, the Canaanite general who escapes to a nearby site. Jael promises to hide him from his pursuers. When he sleeps, Jael drives a peg through his head.
This violent gesture on men is often interpreted as a reflection of Artemisia's revenge on men. As she was the victim of rape in her youth, by a colleague of her father. The painting seems not to show any emotional tension from and between the actors in the scene. This calmness amid violence has intrigued viewers and critics alike.
The Greek goddess Venus is shown sleeping on a bed with rich blue cover; her head nestled on a rich red pillow with gold tassels. Thin linen cloth is wrapped on her thigh. Cupid fans her with richly colored feathers of a peacock. At the left, one sees a view of a mountainous landscape with a circular temple, like the temple dedicated to Venus beside Hadrian’s villa in Tivoli.
Artemisia creatively applies Baroque rendition of a classical theme, in Greek mythology, which the artist set in 17th century Italy. The artwork is a blend of realism and classic style. Artistic style is chiaroscuro, with a sharp contrast of the highlighted body of Venus against a darkened background.
Esther and Ahasuerus by Artemisia Gentileschi
This painting portrays the Esther, Jewish heroine, who breaks court protocol and speaks to her husband, Persian King Ahasuerus, to grant the favor of recalling the massacre of her people, the Jews; thus she puts her own life at risk of death.
The painting is creatively set as a dramatic scene in a contemporary Italian theater, instead of the historical setting in biblical times. This is the Baroque perspective in art where historical or biblical stories are set in the realistic scenario of their time.
This painting is a rendition of the mythical story of a young woman who was prevented by her father, King of Argos, from leaving her chamber. An oracle predicted Danae would have a son who kills her father.
It is Zeus, king of the Greek gods, who impregnates Danae and the son born is Perseus, who fulfills the oracle. Danae is traditionally depicted in art. Here, Artemisia Gentileschi gives her interpretation and portrays Danae as she is experiencing consummation. Danae is not shown as innocent nor aggressive sexually.
Lucretia (Lucrezia) by Artemisia Gentileschi
The theme of the painting is drawn from classical mythology. Lucretia was raped and confessed what happened, then killed herself. The myth symbolized the defiance of women against male tyranny. The artist Artemisia chooses the moment of decision when Lucretia stabs herself.
The artist shows Lucretia, shorn of any sign of wealth, jewelry, and focuses on her face and breasts. She is alone; her decision is her choice. The woman artist zooms in on the psychological effects of the rape as Lucretia is shown, grasping her breast and the dagger. The highlight is brought to focus on the femininity of Lucretia, her nurturing potential as a woman, and her bold decision.
Here, Artemisia Gentileschi portrays Lucretia as the female hero, a recurring theme in her paintings. The artists shows women in their psychological battles and their triumphs through decisive gestures they undertook and thus winning the viewers' empathy.
The Greek classical myth of the satyr, half beast and half man who chases after nymphs in the forests was revived in Renaissance and Baroque art themes. The satyr shows human nature in its bestial aspects.
In this painting of Corisca and the Satyr, Artemisia presents her highly individualist interpretations and womanly instincts and blends these into a unique composition of the classical myth. Here, the nymph Corisca cleverly wore a hairpiece which the satyr tries to grab. As the hairpiece detaches from her hair, this gives her a chance to escape the satyr.
Portrait of a Gonfaloniere by Artemisia Gentileschi
The painting shows Artemisia's skill as a portraitist. She painted the portrait of Pietro Gentile, an unknown gonfalonier, who is in full regalia with the gonfalone at the backdrop.
A Gonfaloniere was the holder of a prestigious communal office in medieval and Renaissance Italy, particularly in Florence and the Papal States. This was an office aspired for by noted families. But by the time of this portrait, the office lost much of its prestige and had only symbolic value.
This is another of Artemisia Gentileschi's famous paintings on figures of history. Here Artemisia renders Cleopatra with her artistic interpretation. Cleopatra is often portrayed as a sexual temptress by many artists. Here, her female attendants discover her suicide.
Artemisia Gentileschi portrays the uncommon mix of female power and powerlessness. The suicide of Cleopatra, a self-inflicted act, comes about because of men's maltreatment.
The painting focuses on what comes after this decision. The nude position of Cleopatra where she is vulnerable to the gaze of the viewer is evidence that Artemisia submitted to her male patrons' suggestions.
Artemisia Gentileschi's famous paintings in her final years
During the year 1630, Artemisia settled in Naples. Naples was then ruled by Spain so Artemisia received a lot of commissions from the Spanish rulers as well as the Spanish churches. In Naples, Artemisia began painting religious paintings, away from her previous focus on feminist themes of heroines and women protagonists.
In her self portrait, Artemisia Gentileschi personifies the allegory traditionally used for painting, that Painting is a woman in allegorical settings. So she uses this unique opportunity to render a realistic portrait of herself as a painter, working with her palette and brushes using the smooth strokes of her paintbrush.
The background is interpreted to be the canvas she was working on. A self-portrait as an artist was the one thing her male counterparts in the art world then, could not perform. It was during her short stay in England that she painted this self-portrait.
The painting of the Birth of John the Baptist by Artemisia Gentileschi was one of a six painting rendition of the life of John the Baptist for the Hermitage of John the Baptist in Buen Rieto, Madrid, Spain. Four paintings were done by artist Massimo Stanzione and another by Paolo Finoglia.
The series was commissioned by the Viceroy of Naples, the Conde de Monterrey. The theme is the biblical story of John the Baptist in Luke 1:5-80. His parents Zacharias and Elizabeth were old. The angel Gabriel appeared to Zacharias, telling him that a son, John, will be born despite Elizabeth's age. Zacharias has fallen dumb. Neighbors insist on the boy's name as Zacharias They ask Zacharias, who writes on the tablet “His name is John”. And he is able to speak. This is the miracle of the birth of John the Baptist.
Artemisia's Baroque thematic treatment situates the biblical story in the current setting. The composition focuses on the neighbors and maidservants rather than on the miracle of the birth of John the Baptist. Artistic style is influenced by the chiaroscuro style of Caravaggio and Massimo Stanzione.
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