Artemisia Gentileschi is one of the most fascinating artists in history. Apprenticed at an early age to her father, the seventeenth-century painter Orazio Gentileschi, she rapidly became more famous than he was, for her rich, dramatic canvases. But her fame was tarnished by scandal. At the age of seventeen, she was violently raped by Agostino Tassi, an artist friend of Orazio's. On discovering Tassi's betrayal, Orazio took the case to court and there followed, in 1612, eight months of humiliation for Artemisia as the inhabitants of Rome's colourful artist's quarter came to give evidence. Their testimony - frank, partial, often cruel - in this first rape trial ever to be fully documented, made Artemisia and her father notorious. (2000-09-14)
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Artemisia Gentileschi stands as one of the greatest painters of the 17th century. Yet for centuries Artemisia's notoriety was based on her gender and violent private life, as Alexandra Lapierre points out in her marvellous biography Artemisia: The Story of a Battle for Greatness. By 1640 she had painted "for Philip IV of Spain and all the crowned heads of Europe. She was famous, beautiful and scandalous. It was well known that, at the age of seventeen, she had been raped by her father's closest collaborator and had had the audacity to take the matter to law". She survived to "feature on the list of the world's wonders, and the virtuosity of her skills was celebrated by poets. In the eyes of her contemporaries she stood as one of the greatest female history painters, perhaps the most brilliant of all", with her violent, erotic studies of Judith Slaying Holfernes and Self Portrait as the Allegory of Painting. The first half of Lapierre's book explores the twisted erotic and artistic triangle established between the young artistic prodigy Artemisia, her successful father the painter Orazio Gentileschi, and his fellow artist and Artemisia's subsequent sexual tormentor, Agostino Tassi. Their intense relationship is brilliantly sketched out against the decadent, corrupt and lawless backdrop of early 17th-century Rome, where "art had become the cornerstone of power--and the artist its instrument". Lapierre wonderfully evokes this world of art and realpolitik, with lush, detailed accounts of everything from court depositions to the grinding of pigment. Her exhaustive research is impressive (there are over a hundred pages of notes and bibliography), but Artemisia is by no means a dry biographical study. Interestingly comparable to Peter Robb's controversial biography of Caravaggio, M, Lapierre's book takes huge liberties with Artemisia's artistic and private life, as she moves between Rome, Florence, Naples, Venice and London, sparring with her emotionally crippled father. However, the result is a rich and satisfying study of a charismatic but ultimately deeply enigmatic artist. -- Jerry Brotton
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Book Description Vintage, 2001. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Bookseller Inventory # DADAX0099289393