The life of Artemisia Gentileschi (1593–after 1654) was as exceptional as her paintings. She was a child prodigy, raised without a mother by her artist father, a follower of Caravaggio. Although she learned to paint under her father, she became an artist against his wishes. Later, as she moved between Florence, Rome, Venice, Naples, and London, her artistic style evolved, but throughout her career she specialized in large-scale, powerful, nuanced portrayals of women. This book highlights Gentileschi’s enterprising and original engagement with emerging feminist notions of the value and dignity of womanhood.
Sheila Barker’s cutting-edge scholarship in Artemisia Gentileschi clears a pathway for all audiences to appreciate the artist’s pictorial intelligence, as well as her achievement of a remarkably lucrative and high-proﬁle career at a time when few women were artists. Bringing to light newly attributed paintings and archival discoveries, this is the ﬁrst biography to be written by an authority on Gentileschi since 1999.
The volume is beautifully illustrated, and Barker weaves this extraordinary story with in-depth discussions of key artworks, such as Susanna and the Elders (1610), Judith Beheading Holofernes (c.1619–20), and Lot and His Daughters (1640–45). Also included is the J. Paul Getty Museum’s recent acquisition, Lucretia (c.1635–45). Through such works, Barker explores the evolution of Gentileschi’s expressive goals and techniques.
“Over the last thirty years Artemisia Gentileschi has received a good deal of attention, to which Sheila Barker’s beautifully illustrated monograph is an outstanding contribution, brimming over with fresh insights and revelatory comparisons on nearly every page . . . essential reading for everyone who has studied this artist, as well as anyone who wishes to begin to know her.” John T. Spike, author of Young Michelangelo: The Path to the Sistine and Caravaggio: Catalogue of Paintings
“Sheila Barker paints a rich portrait of Artemisia’s early career . . . providing details of the artist’s life as well as the personalities she encountered. All in all, a major contribution to our understanding of Artemisia’s life and work.” Judith W. Mann, Curator, European Art to 1800, Saint Louis Art Museum
“Sheila Barker’s book provides a compelling and lively introduction to this endlessly fascinating, complex, and essential painter whose ambitious work challenged the gender-restricting conventions of her day by asserting her claim to be the equal of her male colleagues.” Keith Christiansen, Curator Emeritus, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
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Average rating from 17 members
Ever since I read Susan Vreeland's biographical novel about Artemisia in 2002 I have been fascinated with her life. This is a beautiful and scholarly book detailing the life of Artemisia and her work. She started painting by the age of 15 and I'm amazed so much is known about her life and works. She spends time in Florence painting for the Medici court and then continues on to Rome and to the English court. The book covers her rape and trial but doesn't sensationalize it Her marriage, moves, children, affairs, patrons etc are all part of the story as is the politics of the time. (I've been to Florence and realize there is much I don't know of the Medici history and power). I thought she was the first woman to be admitted to the Academia of Arts but this book claims that is not true. I was surprised to learn it is known for sure when she died or where she was buried. This book is as much art appreciation with focus on elements and interpretations of what the artist creates. I confess I find that harder to read because it is subjective. This book is put out by Getty and includes her art and some others works for comparison. It is a second in a series about Women Artists. I think it would be great for anyone interested art of the 17th century or in Artemisia herself. As I mentioned it is scholarly and would not be easily read by younger readers. I'd recommend high school and up. My daughter would have loved this when she took AP Art History. Because so much of her work is in private collections I feel lucky to have seen at least 15 in my travels in Europe and the USA. Thank you to NetGalley and Getty Publications for a temporary eARC in exchange for an honest review.
One of the best books I have happened across about Artemisia Gentileschi. She seemed so real and "here", I expected to see her sitting on my bench in my yard. A great book for anyone who loves Art.
An engaging read, beautifully illustrated, detailing the fascinating life of the artist Artemisia Gentileschi her life would be a fascinating subject to a historical fiction (imagine Hilary Mantel taking on this life of a female artist moving through the papal court, the Medici at their height and the English royal court, with a missing husband and successful court case against her rapist). Sheila Barker takes on the subject in a scholarly manner, going from the youth of the artist through to her successes, that eclipsed the fame of her painter father. The interpretations of her pictures as very much engaging with political and theological machinations is sometimes both imaginative as stretching the credible, certainly taking into account that Artemisia was not a formally educated person. Still this makes the reader see the many Maria's and the many female nudes in a different light. Along the way we get to see beautiful combinations of purple and yellow and theories of the photo-feminism of the artist. An engaging read, full of enticing works, good as an introduction to the work of the artist and baroque art in general.
Artemisia Gentileschi by Sheila Barker is the second volume in the Illuminating Women Artists series from Getty Publications and is an informative and beautiful addition. Though one of the better known women artists of the past Gentileschi is still mostly known in outline by casual art lovers. This book serves to tell both her life story and her artistic development in as coherent a manner as possible. I found the weaving of her personal life, the society in which she lived, and her artistic response to both absolutely intriguing. There is enough biography here to satisfy those wanting to know more about the artist yet there is plenty of art history and analysis to satisfy those mostly interested in the art itself. Shedding more light on the often overlooked and/or ignored women artists makes this a series to keep an eye on. I have been pleased with both volumes so far. Reviewed from a copy made available by the publisher via NetGalley.
I have seen some of this artist’s paintings and was fascinated by them. Here was a woman painter at a time when the art world was dominated by men. Plus, I later learned about her complicated personal history. For these reasons, I was delighted to have the chance to see this book and to learn more about AG. This title is published by Getty and they clearly know how to produce gorgeous books on art. This book is part of a series on female artists and is motivated, in part, by current social movements and the desire to give space to past pioneers. Each book, according to the introduction, looks at a female artist in terms of social, cultural, temporal and geographic contexts. Attention is also paid to the artist’s life story and the growth and evolution of their art. The reproductions in these pages are plentiful and provide a good sense of the artist. I loved many of the Madonna and Child portraits which, to me, exhibited a contemporary (to her time) feeling and a sense of the warm relationship between the two. Art lovers and those who want to enhance their knowledge base will enjoy this title. I definitely recommend it. Many thanks to NetGalley and the publisher. All opinions are my own.
Disclaimer: I received an ARC via Netgalley Barker’s short book about Gentileschi is part biography, part art appreciation. Barker focuses more on Gentileschi’s art and how it was influenced by or touched on the politics of the day, be it working for the advantage of Catholics in England or endorsing female power in her native Italy. Artemisia Gentileschi’s most famous painting might be either her painting of Judith Slaying Holofernes or Susanna and the Elders Many people know her simply as the woman Italian painter who got raped and then did pictures dealing with women killing men or about rape itself. This does her a disservice. Barker’s book corrects this. The rape and its, possible, connection to some of her work is addressed but is not the center of the book. Gentileschi’s work itself is the center as well as how the work relates to the larger political world that Gentileschi inhabited during her lifetime (1593-1656). It is a quick and interesting read. Despite its short length it is full of information not only about the painter and her personal biography, but also of the time and how women artists operated or succeeded during the time. Additionally, Artemisia is placed alongside the other members of her family who produced art, not just her father who she is usually mentioned alongside, but her brother as well. There is even some information about her mother. Some reader might want a bit more biographical detail, in particular in regards to Gentileschi’s relationship with other women, but considering how scant some of the details of her life are, perhaps this into possible. Barker does include a list of sources for further reading at the end. This book is ideal for anyone who is just starting to learn about art or Gentileschi.
Artemisia has had a warm place in my heart since I first learned about her incredible art and life in my AP Art History class my senior year of High School. This well-researched volume takes a deep dive into her life and artwork creating a comprehensive biography of sorts. The author spent a lot of time in the archives in Florence seeking traces or Artemisia’s life and it shows in the book. The book provides both bibliographical information and analysis of the art. The information in the text was very well written, but was so well researched that it grew tedious, and I found myself skimming several sections. I really appreciated that the book included large full color illustrations of Artemisia’s work as well as similar pieces from contemporaries for references. I think this is a great reference book for Art History scholars, but will likely be too much information for the casual art lover.
Artemisia Gentileschi has been unjustly overlooked throughout history and lately seems to be getting the recognition she deserves. This gorgeous volume does its part, with an original look at her life and work. The author doesn’t just enumerate all her paintings and include a biography, but integrates both in an approachable narrative. She focuses on some of Artemisia’s paintings and the most significant issues that affected her art (such as her religious views and interest in writing sonnets). The volume includes a sample of Artemisia’s paintings, as well as some of her influences, in photographs of outstanding quality. Sheila Barker is an authority in Artemisia Gentileschi, and it shows. What I liked the most is how the book shows the painter’s legacy to feminism, but based on her own time, not ours. All I knew about the artist is that she had been raped, but she was no victim, she lived a rich and independent life and Barker makes this clear. This is a great book for art lovers and anybody interested in learning more about Gentileschi and her time. I chose to read this book and all opinions in this review are my own and completely unbiased. Thank you, NetGalley/#Getty Publications!
Tremendously Interesting and valuable. As this is a scholarly work, I (no art scholar, I assure you) am probably not the most qualified to review it, That said, I was able to follow it with great enjoyment. And the illustrations were nothing short of magnificent. Thanks to NetGalley for providing an ARC copy for my review.
This comprehensive overview of Artemisia Gentileschi's life and influences is spectacular. I knew a bit about this incredible artist through her paintings as well as through a book of historical fiction about her life. This is the first time I felt I have a much better understanding about her life, her influences and Renaissance society during her time. Others have written fragments about her life (most notably about her rape by an older artist). This book changes the frame to examine how she stood with respect to society's views of womanhood. She had many other women role models - including Lavinia Fontana, a female artist in her own right, who I am chagrined to say I had never heard of until this book! Artemisia's art depicts female nudes in empowering and realistic ways. This book provides beautiful reproductions of her work (among others such as art by her father', Caravaggio, and Fontana) This is a beautiful comprehensive tribute to a great artist who deserves this long overdue recognition.
Artemisia Gentileschi is a new name for me, sort of. I know I didn’t study her paintings when I was in high school, and that I found out about her a few years ago, thanks to a Tumblr post. I’m sure I have it saved somewhere because it was interesting: it talked about Susanna and the Elders, about how the original drawing was more vivid, harsher. Now I can’t remember if the last version was painted over the previous one or what, but I studied the composition for a while. Gentileschi sense of movement—of life?—is impressive. ** The life of Artemisia Gentileschi (1593–after 1654) was as exceptional as her paintings. She was a child prodigy, raised without a mother by her artist father, a follower of Caravaggio. Although she learned to paint under her father, she became an artist against his wishes. Later, as she moved between Florence, Rome, Venice, Naples, and London, her artistic style evolved, but throughout her career she specialized in large-scale, powerful, nuanced portrayals of women. This book highlights Gentileschi’s enterprising and original engagement with emerging feminist notions of the value and dignity of womanhood. Sheila Barker’s cutting-edge scholarship in Artemisia Gentileschi clears a pathway for all audiences to appreciate the artist’s pictorial intelligence, as well as her achievement of a remarkably lucrative and high-proﬁle career at a time when few women were artists. Bringing to light newly attributed paintings and archival discoveries, this is the ﬁrst biography to be written by an authority on Gentileschi since 1999. The volume is beautifully illustrated, and Barker weaves this extraordinary story with in-depth discussions of key artworks, such as Susanna and the Elders (1610), Judith Beheading Holofernes (c.1619–20), and Lot and His Daughters (1640–45). Also included is the J. Paul Getty Museum’s recent acquisition, Lucretia (c.1635–45). Through such works, Barker explores the evolution of Gentileschi’s expressive goals and techniques. 144 pages Biography, nonfiction Getty Publishing Goodreads ** Cover: Oh. Hm. Good painting choice, but the left stripe ruins it. A different font and a different color, sans stripe, would have worked better. Yay! - As I mentioned above, Gentileschi’s works haven’t been that widespread in the past, at least in my neck of the woods. Being able to read her biography is a gift, even more so because it’s a good one: well-researched, full of details, and not focusing on the grim aspects of her life. It would have been easy to go for the shock value of her assault, something Barker steered clear of. Thank you. - There’s an ample choice of paintings, going from the most famous ones to the lesser-known. As always, it’s hard to admire art on a screen, but the pictures look crisp and taken with an eye for details. Engaging prose, mixing both Gentileschi’s life and other painters’—same with their works. I will not lie, I’m in two minds about it. However, Barker makes it easier for us to compare Gentileschi’s style with different ones. - Gentileschi’s best feature is her sense of movement, something Barker highlights. Her paintings aren’t static; rather, they look like snapshots, taken in the middle of action. The fact that her talent is being recognized worldwide puts an emphasis on it: you thought Caravaggio was the master of movement? He has to share the title with Gentileschi, sorry. - I like mistake-free books! I always want to high-five my fellow editors when they do a good job—it’s important. Special mention: - Allegory of Inclination - Judith Beheading Holofernes (the sense of movement and the fact Gentileschi didn’t pull any punches render this one astounding) - Judith and her Maidservant with the Head of Holofernes (I never saw this painting before) - Susanna and the Elders - Self-portrait as the Allegory of Painting Nay! - I’m not sure about having other artists featured in the book. While I can understand and, to a point, appreciate that choice, Artemisia Gentileschi is a book about Gentileschi. She didn’t live in a bubble, but the spotlight should be hers. TL;DR 4 stars on GR.