Baroque painter Artemisia Gentileschi’s life and works are intertwined and inseparable. At 18 she was raped by Antonio Tassi, an artist hired by her father to tutor her. During the public and gossip-inducing trial she was tortured to prove her testimony was true.
Visit the new exhibition Artemisia Gentileschi e il suo tempo at Palazzo Braschi and it’s easy to spot a theme of revenge running through her paintings. Her most famous work, Judith Slaying Holofernes, is a brutal and bloody scene of decapitation.
In Caravaggio’s version of the same story, from which she took inspiration, the blade cuts seemingly with little effort as an old maid servant simply watches. For Gentileschi this act required two women to pin down Holofernes, a hand grasping his hair as he struggles against the attack.
Gentileschi certainly used her paintbrush as a tool of self-expression in a male dominated world, but there’s more to this artist than just her personal life. This exhibition showcases her paintings alongside those of her contemporaries.
In this wider context, Gentileschi is framed not as a victim but as a woman who was able to produce great art despite the circumstances thrown her way.
Till 7 May 2017
Museo di Roma Palazzo Braschi
Entry Fee €9-11