born 1593, Rome, Papal States [Italy]
died 1652/53, Naples, Kingdom of Naples
Italian painter, daughter of
who was a major follower of the revolutionary Baroque painter
Caravaggio. She was an important second-generation proponent of
Caravaggio's dramatic realism.
A pupil of her father and of his friend, the landscape painter Agostino
Tassi, she painted at first in a style indistinguishable from her
father's somewhat lyrical interpretation of Caravaggio's example. Her
first known workis “Susanna and the Elders” (1610), an accomplished work
long attributed to her father. She was raped by Tassi, and, when he did
not fulfill his promise to marry her, Orazio Gentileschi in 1612 brought
him to trial. During that event she herself was forced to give evidence
under torture. She married a Florentine shortly after the trial and
joined the Academy of Design in Florence in 1616. While in Florence she
began to develop her own distinct style. Her colours are more brilliant
than her father's, and she continued to employ the tenebrism made
popular by Caravaggio long after her father had abandoned that style.
Although her compositions were graceful, she was perhaps the most
violent of all the Caravaggisti; she illustrated such subjects as the
story from the Apocrypha of Judith, the Jewish heroine, beheading
Holofernes, an invading general.
Artemisia Gentileschi was in Rome for a time and also in Venice. About
1630 she moved to Naples and in 1638–39 visited her father in London.
There she painted many portraits and quickly surpassed her father's
fame. Later, probably in 1640 or 1641, she settled in Naples, but little
is known of the final years of her life.