Artemisia Gentileschi’s Major Works Of Art

Artemisia Gentileschi’s Major Works Of Art

Artemisia Gentileschi was an important Italian artist who lived from the late 16th Century to the mid 17th Century. She is known as a woman who broke many gender barriers in her art.

Artemisia Gentileschi painted many significant works of art as a full-time artist during her lifetime. She was an extremely gifted artist who gave a unique perspective on the subject matters she was painting. Many of her works of art have hidden messages about the repression of women by men.

Here are some of the most important and significant works of art by Artemisia Gentileschi

Susanna And The Elders By Artemisia Gentileschi (1610)

Susanna And The Elders (1610) By Artemisia Gentileschi
Susanna And The Elders (1610) By Artemisia Gentileschi

Susanna and the Elders is the first work known to have been painted entirely by Artemisia Gentileschi. At the time of the painting, she was only 17 years old.

Susanna and the Elders show a frequently depicted biblical scene of two voyeuristic elders spying on the virtuous Susanna while bathing. The elders then try to blackmail Susannainto having sexual relations with them.

What is unique about this painting is that Artemisia Gentileschi shows Susanna and the stress of being watched by these men; Susanna was clearly in distress of not wanting to have sexual relations with these men.

Artemisia Gentileschi showing Susanna in distress is very different from how many of the other artists painted the same subject matter; many of those artists showed Susanna wanting to have the attention.

Artemisia Gentileschi painted this painting before her rape with Tassi; we do not know if she had other unwelcome encounters or sexual attention before she suffered her rape with Tassi. Painting Susanna as somebody who did not want to have the attention of these men and instead was a frightened young girl was very much a woman’s perspective on this event.

Danae By Artemisia Gentileschi (1612)

Danaë (1907-1908) By Gustav Klimt

The painting of Artemisia Gentileschi called Danae depicts the Greek mythology of Danae. In the Greek Methodology, the daughter of Acrisius, the King of Agros, is foretold through an oracle that Danae will have a son who will kill her father, Acrisius.

Her father believes in this oracle and imprisons her in an attempt to evade her from getting pregnant. The Greek God Zeus visits Danae in the form of a shower of gold, and she gets pregnant and conceives Perseus, who accidentally kills her father, Acrisius, or King of Agros.

Artemisia Gentileschi’s painting of Danae depicts Danae just as she is becoming impregnated with the shower of gold.

Danae was also an additional subject for paintings depicted by other artists during this period. Usually, that artist would represent Danae as either very promiscuous or greedy in that she wanted to accept the gold shower greedily.

Artemisia Gentileschi’s Danae is neither aggressive nor innocently aware of what is taking place. Instead, she is shown in the process of experiencing the consumption that is taking place.

Some art historians believe that Artemisia Gentileschi showed the sexually aroused Danae, but others argue that Artemisia Gentileschi is depicting sexual violence forced on her.

Since Artemisia Gentileschi experienced a violent rape, I believe she depicted sexual violence and not sexual pleasure.

In the background, you can see that the servant is there, ignoring what is happening and greedily collecting the gold that is coming down. This could also be about Artemisia Gentileschi’s so-called friend Tuzia who knew of her rape but did nothing to help Artemisia.

Judith Slaying Holofernes By Artemisia Gentileschi (1620)

Judith Slaying Holofernes (1620) By Artemisia Gentileschi
Judith Slaying Holofernes (1620) By Artemisia Gentileschi

In Judith with the slaying of Holofernes, Artemisia Gentileschi is once again returning to a biblical story of Judith beheading Holofernes. Many other artists also painted this scene, but for many, they focused on the beauty and courage of Judith rather than the violent act.

In this painting, Artemisia Gentileschi shows us the moment that the beheading is taking place and Holofernes is being beheaded. She also shows how the women struggled with Holofernes, one woman helping to hold him down while Judith beheads him.

Artemisia Gentileschi is showing us the power of women. Many other artists’ paintings show Judith as a servant or a weaker woman. But this painting by Artemisia Gentileschi shows Judith as a strong young woman who is actively participating in the beheading of Holofernes.

Many felt that Artemisia Gentileschi had painted herself as Judith in this painting. Maybe it was in rebellion to the abuse she thought she had suffered under men, particularly her rape and the public humiliation and trial that happened afterward.

Lucretia By Artemisia Gentileschi (1623-25)

Lucretia (1623-25) By Artemisia Gentileschi
Lucretia (1623-25) By Artemisia Gentileschi

In her painting Lucretia, Artemisia Gentileschi goes back to painting some classical mythology. Lucretia was raped, and after confessing what happened to her, she decided to kill herself.

Lucretia became a famous classical symbol against the tyranny of men. Lucretia was also a symbol of female defiance against men.

In this painting of Lucretia, Artemisia Gentileschi paints the exact moment when Lucretia decides to stab herself. In this painting, Lucretia has no jewelry or anything to show her status or wealth but only has a disheveled robe.

Artemisia Gentileschi also shows us that Lucretia, even though living in a world where men mistreated her, still had her agency in the decision to end her own life. In a sense, Lucretia is a kind of female hero who used the choices she had before her to do what she felt needed to be done.

Cleopatra By Artemisia Gentileschi (1633-1635)

Cleopatra (1633-1635) By Artemisia Gentileschi
Cleopatra (1633-1635) By Artemisia Gentileschi

In this painting, Cleopatra, Artemisia Gentileschi shows another female who chose suicide due to being sexually exoticized by her male counterparts. Artemisia Gentileschi shows when Cleopatra is found dead by her female servants.

Cleopatra’s body seems to have some rigor mortis set in, which shows that she had been there for a while before she was found. Artemisia Gentileschi offers a complex vision of female power.

Cleopatra dies a lonely death after being driven to suicide due to men’s misuse. She shows that Cleopatra still had the agency to decide to take her own life.

The painting also symbolizes the world and time that Artemisia Gentileschi lived where women had very few choices and the impact that those lack of options had on the women.

Self-Portrait As The Allegory Of Painting By Artemisia Gentileschi (1638, 1639)

Self-Portrait As The Allegory Of Painting (1638, 1639) By Artemisia Gentileschi
Self-Portrait As The Allegory Of Painting (1638, 1639) By Artemisia Gentileschi

In one of her last paintings, Artemisia Gentileschi uses herself as the subject matter for the painting. She shows herself as a painter with her palette and quick brushstrokes.

The brown background symbolizes a black canvas or her unfinished work as an artist. The painting depicts a rare female scene when women rarely had any jobs, left alone a well-known artist who had commissions to paint.

Many have seen this painting of her statement that women could be artists and be successful.

Artemisia Gentileschi is considered one of the great artists of all time. She was also a trailblazer who showed that women could be artists. As a woman living in the 16th and 17th Centuries, artists everywhere owe it to Artemisia Gentileschi for courageously blazing the way.

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