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Artemisia Gentileschi: The Image of the Female Hero in Italian Baroque Art

3.5 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0691040509
ISBN-10: 0691040508
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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

Garrard's in-depth study of Renaissance/Baroque painter Gentileschi is both timely and necessary. First, Garrard examines the life and work of the painter: the training with her artist father, the debt to Michelangelo and Caravaggio, the biblical and classical themes prevalent among her contemporaries, stylistic concerns, and her popularity, much-publicized rape, and influence. Then, using this information as context, Garrard proceeds to interpret the pictorial and spiritual contents of Gentileschi's paintings, contending that, while no one gainsays Gentileschi's skill, her true genius lies in her ability to empower mythic-heroic female subjects with "female artistic intelligence." In her novel, based on Gentileschi's life, Banti attempts to understand her own world, that of World War II Italy, through an imaginative and spiritual friendship with the 17th-century painter. Weaving back and forth between past and present, between a violated Artemesia and a violated Italy, Banti re-creates characters and landscapes. Through mastery of style and material, she builds a portrayal of courage and sorrow and creates a protagonist who moves from shadow to light. In both works, the final illumination belongs to the reader.
- Lucy Breslin, Portland, Me.
Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc.


"[This book] is doubly welcome, both for its hitherto underrehearsed subject--one of the most accomplished female practitioners in the history of art--and for the exceptionally keen and questing intelligence which the author brings to her task."--John Gash, Art in America

"Garrard brings her subject vividly to life as few scholars of the period have done for other artists.... [Her] powerfully argued, intelligent appreciation of every facet of Gentileschi's difficult life and artistic contribution will bring the artist a large, new audience."--Ann Sutherland Harris, The Women's Review of Books

"If you read only one art history book this year, it should be Mary D. Garrard's Artemisia Gentileschi."--Raymond B. Waddington, Studies in English Literature, 1500-1900


Product Details

  • Hardcover: 640 pages
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press (March 21, 1989)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0691040508
  • ISBN-13: 978-0691040509
  • Product Dimensions: 1.5 x 8.8 x 10.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,401,521 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

Well researched and informative. The author brings new insight to the life and times of a talented artist from the early seventeenth century. Gentileschi, a professional painter and anomaly in the world of art during her life, was overlooked by historians for three hundred years. The author analyses the artists' capabilities and "intensity of emotional expression." Garrard also uses existing evidence to hypothesize on the impact of the cultural and personal experiences that drove Gentileschi's interpretations of biblical themes.

The reader can examine the phenomenal work of Gentileschi, who achieved a "privileged position" and was paid over three times more then her male counterparts on specific projects such as the "Galleria" of Michelangelo Buonarroti the Younger (Florence, 1615.) Twenty four color plates of Gentileschi's paintings and many black and white reproductions of examples from other artists of the Baroque period visually enhance the author's treatise on the unique position of this artist during her lifetime, but was kept outside the mainstream of male-dominated art history until the late 20th century.

Garrard revealed facts about Gentileschi's career such as membership in the Florentine Academy supported by the Medici family and her relationship with the English monarchy, confirming the value of this artists' place in history according to accepted standards.

As a student of artist biography in the popular format over scholarly art writing, I found the prose a bit heavy on the academic style, which at times slowed down my reading.
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The book contains over 600 pages of scholarly text. I doubt if the casual art buff has the patience to wade through it. I did
find the description of the rape trial of Tasso, a painter hired by Artemisia's father to teach her perspective, fascinating.
The account of Artemisia's charge, the trial itself and its final verdict are, as I said, quite gripping and disturbing.

The book contains only twenty five color plates of Artesmisia's paintings, albeit ones which are impeccably reproduced;
some of these are details.

As I said a book for the scholar and art historian rather than the simple lover of art. Obviously this is just my personal
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