The Extraordinary Career of Artemisia Gentileschi

Getty Art + Ideas
Getty Art + Ideas
The Extraordinary Career of Artemisia Gentileschi

“If anything, a sense of self, a sense of destiny, the fact that she belonged among the greats, was a defining mark of Artemisia’s personality.”

Artemisia Gentileschi was an acclaimed Baroque painter whose life was as compelling as her art. Born in Rome in 1593 to Prudenzia di Montone and the Tuscan painter Orazio Gentileschi, Artemesia lost her mother when she was 12, leaving her to help raise her three brothers. Her father took the unusual step of training her as a painter, though there were few opportunities for women artists at the time. But Artemisia proved to be a prodigy, producing the masterpiece Susanna and the Elders (1610) and receiving a commission for a portrait while still a teenager.

When Artemisia was 17, she was raped by Agostino Tassi, a painter her father knew. Tassi was ultimately found guilty, but the trial damaged Artemisia’s reputation. Nonetheless, she earned the respect of her peers and won royal commissions across Europe, becoming a much sought-after painter who worked in Venice, Florence, Rome, London, and Naples. She produced several renowned masterpieces, including the painting Lucretia (ca. 1635–45), which was recently rediscovered and acquired by the Getty. This work is a stunning example of Artemisia’s dramatic, naturalist style and her powerful portrayals of women.

In this episode, Sheila Barker, founding director of the Jane Fortune Research Program on Women Artists at the Medici Archive Project, discusses Artemisia’s extraordinary art and enduring legacy.

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To buy the book Lives of Artemisia Gentileschi, visit

To buy the book Artemisia Gentileschi, visit

Author: Getty Media

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