Keith Christiansen – Judith Walker Mann | Orazio and Artemisia Gentileschi
This beautifully produced volume brings together for the first time works by two remarkable painters of seventeenth-century Italy who happen also to have been father and daughter: Orazio and Artemisia Gentileschi. Famous in their own day, these two artists have enjoyed renewed fame in the twentieth century: Orazio as one of the first and certainly the most individual of Caravaggio’s followers; Artemisia as the outstanding female painter prior to the twentieth century. The tumultuous lives of these two artists moved along parallel trajectories and take the reader from the popular quarters of papal Rome and the rough-and-tumble world of Naples to the courts of the grand duke of Tuscany, Marie de’ Medici in Paris, and Charles I in London. These changing circumstances nourished two different aesthetic visions, both of which were deeply rooted in the Caravaggesque practice of painting directly from the posed model. While Orazio’s art became ever more refined and elegant, Artemisia espoused a rhetorical form of dramatic presentation that is the basis of Baroque painting.
Written to accompany the landmark exhibition held in Rome, New York, and Saint Louis, the book includes essays that describe the art and people the two painters encountered in the course of their peripatetic careers and address such issues as feminism and the critical interpretation of Artemisia’s work. The essays, arranged chronologically to follow the artists as they moved from city to city, not only provide critical commentary but illuminate the historical context in which they worked.
The appendices include previously unpublished documents relating to the trial of Orazio’s colleague Agostino Tassi for his rape of Artemisia, which shed new light on her father’s workshop practice, and a recently discovered inventory of Artemisia’s household goods drawn up on the eve of her departure from Florence to Rome. The book is the work of Keith Christiansen and Judith W. Mann, with contributions by a team of outstanding scholars.