ARTEMISIA GENTILESCHI: influential women of all time – Early Life and Reign, social and political life, major works and death

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father as her principal counselor—secretly entered into correspondence with the likeliest claimant to the throne, James VI of Scotland.

Having reportedly indicated James as her successor, Elizabeth died quietly. The nation enthusiastically wel- comed its new king. But in a very few years the English began to express nostalgia for the rule of “Good Queen Bess.” Long before her death she had transformed herself into a powerful image of female authority, regal magnifi- cence, and national pride, and that image has endured to the present.

ARTEMISIA GENTILESCHI

(b. July 8, 1593, Rome, Papal States [Italy]—d. 1652/53, Naples, Kingdom of Naples)

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he Italian painter Artemisia Gentileschi was the daughter of Orazio Gentileschi, a follower of the revolutionary Baroque painter Caravaggio. She herself was an important second-generation proponent of

Caravaggio’s dramatic realism.

A pupil of her father and of his friend the landscape painter Agostino Tassi, Artemisia painted at first in a style indistinguishable from her father’s somewhat lyrical inter- pretation of Caravaggio’s example. Her first known work is Susanna and the Elders (1610), an accomplished work long attributed to her father. She also painted two versions of a scene already essayed by Caravaggio (but never attempted by her father), Judith Beheading Holofernes (c. 1612–13; c. 1620). She was raped by Tassi, and, when he did not fulfill his promise to marry her, Orazio Gentileschi in 1612 brought him to trial. During that event Artemisia was forced to give evidence under torture.

Shortly after the trial she married a Florentine, and in 1616 she joined Florence’s Academy of Design, the first

image

Portrait of a Lady, Three-Quarter Length Seated, Dressed in a Gold Embroidered Elaborate Costume, oil on canvas by Artemisia Gentileschi, 17th century. In a private collection

Portrait of a Lady, Three-Quarter Length Seated, Dressed in a Gold Embroidered Elaborate Costume, oil on canvas by Artemisia Gentileschi, 17th century. In a private collection

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