You absolutely need to know about this woman. She started painting in 1614, when pretty much NO WOMEN were doing that. And she wasn't messing around with flowers and rainbows. Oh no. Her paintings were gory as hell. She learned to paint from her father, who nurtured her talent because unlike her brothers, this lady was no slouch. No offense to the bros, but she was a much better painter. She was the original gangsta. You think I'm kidding. I am not.
Her art is not messing around.
Her first work was Susanna and the Elders (above). The image on the right is an x-ray of the painting. It's a scene from the Bible that was a popular subject at the time. Essentially, Susanna is the victim of two total creeps, who watch her bathing and then threaten to blackmail her by making claims about her chastity unless she has sex with them. Gross.
Well, painters at the time *loved* this subject. Simply put: They really liked painting naked ladies. Gentileschi was clearly having none of that voyeuristic **** and painted the scene exactly as messed up as it is. Apparently her peers were all to week for that because she had to tone it down (as you can see on the left).
It's a hard knock life (for realsies it was awful).
People assumed that her dad was helping her (or doing all the work for her) despite the fact that their styles were completely different. That would be irritating enough. Her mom died when she was twelve. Oh, and the tutor that had been hired to work with her raped her repeatedly. And her aunt, who was upstairs at the time, totally ignored her when she screamed for help. You know, because people are terrible.
Her dad sued the SOB, but the basis of the case wasn't that her tutor had done something awful to her as a person. Nope. It's that he stole her virginity (and some paintings, because why do things in halves). Turns out the guy had been planning on killing his wife, he'd been having an affair with his sister-in-law, and was planning on stealing a bunch more stuff from the Gentileschi family. But guess who had to be tortured during the trial? Artemisia. That was pretty standard.
A year after the trial, Artemisia painted Judith Beheading Holofernes (above). Often the scene was painted depicting a very hesitant Judith (Caravaggio's version is the second image on the card). Artemisia's version is practically gleeful.
Her paintings are still judging you centuries later.
She was the first woman accepted into the Accademia delle Arti del Disegno because even though her reputation was kind of terrible thanks to the aforementioned SOB she was just that good. She was commissioned to paint all over the place. Dukes and Duchesses were all up in her business. She was friends with coolsters like Galileo (just the father of modern physics, nbd). She kept pretty busy, helping her dad paint a giant commission for King Charles I of England, and basically getting revenge on all her haters by living her best life ever.
You'd best remember this lady.
Totally ahead of the times, Artemisia's work stood apart from her peers. The majority of her paintings featured female figures in positions of power. They weren't timid or shy, they were fierce. The technique itself was incredibly bold and realistic, when at the time most painters were using an idyllic style. Her paintings frequently featured women committing acts of violence. She was basically famous for something terrible that happened to her, and she owned it. "Oh, people are gossiping about me? Let's give 'em something to gossip about." -Artemesia, probably. She used her talent and personality to combat the frankly ridiculous stereotypes about women that characterized the period.