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Artemisia Gentileschi

(1593—1653) painter


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(1593–1652/3), Italian painter who achieved professional success producing dramatic religious and mythological narratives for an international clientele. Because early modern art instruction involved apprenticeship to a master, most women artists had fathers who were artists, from whom they could receive training without leaving home. Artemisia learned from her father, the widowed Orazio, who had assimilated the technique of Caravaggio, eliminating the traditional preparatory drawing and working from models in oils directly on the canvas or panel. Typically for workshop practice in this period, father and daughter collaborated on paintings. Artemisia signed and dated a poignant narrative featuring a prominent female nude, Susanna and the Elders (Pommersfelden, Schloss Weissenstein) in 1610. This youthful but accomplished work established her as a resourceful history painter and heralded what would become her hallmark: dramatic narratives featuring heroines, many depicted in the nude. Probably her best-known work is the startlingly graphic depiction of Judith decapitating Holofernes (Florence, Uffizi).

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From The Oxford Encyclopedia of Women in World History in Oxford Reference.

Subjects: History.


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