Artemisia Gentileschi Essay

1502 Words7 Pages
Artemisia Gentileschi has remained one of the most famous women artists in modern history that is not famous for solely her skill. Though talented, scholars have instead chose to highlight the sexual assault and personal struggles Gentileschi went through as a means to deeper understand and criticise her masterful art. Although she painted few altarpieces and no frescoes, her talent was still comparable to some of the great male masters of her time, with her rendition of the story of Judith and Holofernes frequently being compared to the great Caravaggio’s. Despite her success as an artist, many historians have instead focused on her role as a woman. Undoubtedly, Artemisia experienced many things that other men, and male artists, would not…show more content…
She has been studied in regards to her gender, her life experiences and her art, most often a combination of the three. Many of the discourse on Artemisia and how her biography affected her work is also centered around two of her most famous images: Judith and Holofernes and Susanna and the Elders. Despite this, it is useful to mention that in a catalogue of her work in Florence, 15 of her paintings imagined women as subjected to male control or male lust otherwise owe their fates to men and where more than half of her subjects (excluding portraits) carry implications of sexuality (573). She has been heralded as a painter of strong women, and many feminist art historians have taken this as a sign that Gentileschi was a feminist. Others, like Ward Bissell, have debated that she would not be considered a feminist, even by 17th century standards, and that her success was merely a result of her response to the market conditions of the time. In regards to her gender and how that affected her success, Bissell hypothesizes that “as far as the male viewer was concerned it was the painter, not the painting, that made the work titillating” (573). This analysis continues the conversation that while she was an artist, above all, Artemisia was a woman, and thus an object for men to
Open Document