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.
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Alexandra Lapierre is a novelist and biographer. Her book, Fanny Stevenson, won Grand Prix Litteraire des Lectrices de Elle. She currently lives in Rome.
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