A Hidden Treasure of Italy – Artist Artemisia Gentileschi

Artemisia Gentileschi – Self Portrait

By Joanne Natale Spigonardo

September 17, 2021

We all know the many great Italian masters of art.  There are too numerous male painters to mention. However, the ones that automatically come to my mind are Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Botticelli, and Caravaggio. 

Artemisia Gentileschi is one of the most famous women in the history of art.  She was born in Rome in 1593 and worked along side of her father, Orazio Gentileschi, also a painter and student of Caravaggio. Her father was her mentor, and even though, her mother died when she was only 12, Artemisia had a gentle and strong role model in her father. Artemisia also studied the Baroque style of Caravaggio. Her style is known for its natural form and color. Her works come to life in a surreal and energetic burst of light.

Artemisia was raped by artist Agostino Tassi, who refused to marry her, but she was avenged in court where he was accused of the crime.  Her life was one of repression, rage, and unfairness.  Artemisia had a good father who encouraged her to study in Florence and she was soon married to a Florentine who supported her talent. Artemisia was the first woman to enroll in Accademia delle Arti del Disegno (the Academy of Arts and Drawing). She painted her first portrait entitled The spirit of Cesar in the Soul of a Woman at age 17.  Her work often depicts myths where women are warriors facing battle.  One of which is, Judith Slaying Holofernes. Her painting suggests the plight of women then and now. Her voice is telling us to fight suppression and use talent and intelligence as a weapon.  Artemisia was also celebrated artist in the court of the de Medici family, that aided her popularity and success.

The spirit of Cesar in the Soul of a Woman
Judith Slaying Holofernes

Artemisia paved the path for the many wonderful famous women artists in history.  She died in Rome in 1652.  She is a true treasure of Italy. Her story and talent gave inspiration to  many women artists, for example, Angelica Kauffman (1741-1807), Elisabeth Louise Vigee le Brun (1755-1842),  Mary Cassatt (1844-1926), Frida Kahlo (1907-1954), Georgia O’Keeffe (1887-1986), and many others that are too numerous to mention.  

About the Author: Joanne Natale Spigonardo

Joanne has many years of experience in travel to Italy, Italian art, literature, film, history, wine, and cuisine. She is a lover of nature and beauty.  She is an advocate for Italian immigrant women, and the author of White Widow, which is available on Amazon. https://www.amazon.com/White-Widow-Joanne-Natale-Spigonardo/dp/B085DT65DB.  For more information about Joanne please visit her LinkedIn page:  https://www.linkedin.com/in/joanne-spigonardo-b4824a9/.

Published by spigonaj

Joanne Spigonardo Business Development Consultant Specializing in Sustainability, Higher Education, Career Management, and Public Relations In her former roles, Joanne served as Senior Associate Director at the Initiative for Global Environmental Leadership (IGEL) at Wharton. Joanne was also part of the Communications Office. She held positions as business manager of the Wharton Seminars for Business Journalists and for the Wharton Alumni Magazine. Joanne also served as the media relations coordinator. When with Alitalia Airlines, Joanne worked as a sales representative. Joanne graduated from The University of Pennsylvania with a BA and later graduated from the Wharton Aresty Institute of Executive Education. She has a strong background in development, management, marketing, and Italian language and culture. As a Wharton Mentor, she coached new employees on professional development, and is active in Penn’s Grievance panels. Joanne was on the board of governors for the University Club. Joanne is chair of the Delaware County Penn Alumni Interview Program and oversees alumni volunteers. As an alum of Penn and Wharton, and also a parent of two Penn graduates, she is a strong advocate in promoting Penn. At Wharton IGEL, Joanne had been in partnership with GreenBiz, Sustainable Brands, the Ethical Corporation, Pira Packaging International, Public Relations Society of America, the Green Sports Alliance, World Trade Center of Greater Philadelphia, the Italian Consulate, the Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce, the Sonoma County Winegrowers Association, and the Nature Conservancy, as well as, many other NGO and government offices. She has brokered hundreds of corporate relationships for Wharton. Joanne is the author of her book, White Widow, published on Kindle and Amazon. The book is a fictional novel about 19th-20th Century Italian immigrants. https://www.amazon.com/White-Widow-Joanne-Natale-Spigonardo/dp/B085DT65DB

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