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Artemisia Gentileschi: revenge

Artemisia Gentileschi - Feminist Icon of 17th Century

In the era when women painters were not accepted by the artistic community, the only female follower of Caravaggio, she was the first woman who became a member of the Accademia di Arte del Disegno in Florence and achieves recognition in the male-dominated world of Post-Renaissance art.

Born in 1593 in Rome, daughter of the well-known Roman artist, Orazio Gentileschi, she was the first woman who painted historian and religious scenarios.

At the age of 18, Artemisia went through the horrible experience, she was raped by her mentor Agostino Tessi, it coasted big damage to a young girl and ruined her reputation.

In those days women were not even considered as complete human beings. 17th-century Roman trials and justice was not as nowadays, in order to prove guilty of rape, the judge thought the victim needed to be violently assaulted again. During Artemisia’s rape trial, midwives physically examined her in front of a judge to see if she was still a virgin.

“This is the ring you gave me and these are your promises!” yelled Gentileschi as she was tortured in a Rome courtroom in 1612. Ropes were wrapped around her fingers and pulled tight. The judge had advised the moderate use of the Sibille, as this torture was called, for she was after all 18. Across the court sat the man who had raped her. No one thought of torturing him. Defiantly, Gentileschi told him her thumbscrews were the wedding ring he’d promised. Again and again, she repeated that her testimony about the rape was reliable: “It is true, it is true, it is true, it is true.”

After the trial, her father arranged her marriage and sent the couple to Florence.

But trauma and pain were still there, she couldn't forget those horrible events.

As any strong women, she needed revenge, but instead of taking a sword, she armed herself with a brush. It was centuries before feminism.....

She transferred her experience to the canvas. In her artworks, Artemisia started concentrating a lot on the physical pain. Strong, powerful women became heroines of her art, suffering, taking their revenge for the violence.

Judith Slaying Holofernes

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