Orazio and Artemisia Gentileschi: A father-daughter team unique in art history
Today Artemisia (1593-1652) is more famous -- it's hard to think of a recognized woman painter earlier than she -- but judging by the paintings we saw, the first gathering of Gentileschi works ever -- her father Orazio (1563-1639) was her equal. Still, she gains the nod for overcoming handicaps. At nineteen, she was raped -- not seduced, not taken in innocence, but forcibly raped -- by Agostino Tossi, her father's pupil. We know it was rape because it was proved at the trial which resulted in Tossi's five-year banishment from Rome. We can also infer its impact on Artemisia from the series of bloody Judith and Holofernes that she subsequently painted, and for her own unflattering Self-portrait as the Allegory of Painting.
Copyright 2002 David Alexander Smith