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  • I Am The Most Important Female Artist Prior To The Modern Period

    Who Am I?

    By Anthony Parente

    I was born in the city of Rome on July 8, 1593. My father Orazio was a great painter who was greatly influenced by Caravaggio. I studied under my father, who taught me all that he knew. At the age of 17, I painted Susanna and the Elders, which is my best-known work of art. Together with my father we painted Judith and her Maidservant in 1611.

    In addition to my father I was a student of Agostino Tassi, who was a landscape painter. Tassi wanted to be more than just a teacher. When I was 19 he forced his will on me and raped me. To keep me quiet he promised to marry me, but he never did. In 1612 my father brought a suit against him for raping me. During the trial additional evidence of incest amongst other things was brought forth damaging his character and a witness stepped forth to testify that he had bragged about his conquest of me to him. He was found guilty, but unfortunately he only served less than a year.

    Shortly after the trial I married Pietro Antonio di Vincenzo Stiattesi, a Florentine artist, and we moved to Florence where I later had a child. During the period after the trial and the beginning of my marriage I completed a painting titled Judith Slaying Holofernes.

    Centuries after my death a controversial film about my life was released in 1998. It was produced by a French filmmaker and dubbed a true story by Miramax. The film was not an accurate account of my life. It painted Agostino and me as lovers, which was far from the truth. This was just one of the many inaccuracies depicted in this movie. If it wasn't for Gloria Steinem and Mary Garrard campaigning in my defense, Miramax would still be promoting this film as my true life story.

    My painting titled The Inclination was one of the first paintings commissioned for the galleria in Casa Buonarotti. In 1630 I moved to Naples. During my tenure there I painted such works as the Annunciation, Adoration of the Magi and the Birth of St. John the Baptist.

    I went to London in 1638 to work with my father for King Charles I of England. We worked on painting the ceilings of the Great Hall in the Queen's house at Greenwich. After my father's death I returned to Naples. The exact date of my death is unknown. However, it is believed that I passed away in 1652.

    I am considered by many as the most important female artist prior to the modern period as well as a major Italian Baroque painter. In 1616 I became the first female artist to join the Academy of Design. I also happened to be the only female follower of Caravaggio and I am credited with helping to spread the work of Caravaggio to the various cities I visited. Many of my paintings depict heroic women such as Judith, Susanna, Cleopatra and Lucretia.

    For those of you who haven't figured out my identity I wish to introduce myself.

    My name is Artemisia Gentileschi and I hope that I can be a model of strength, hope and courage for all those who have suffered the same ordeal and trauma that I have. Below you can find more information about my life and my accomplishments.

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