Artemisia Gentileschi

8 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0691002859
ISBN-10: 0691002851
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Paperback, January 1, 1991
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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 text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


"[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

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 607 pages
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press (January 1, 1991)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0691002851
  • ISBN-13: 978-0691002859
  • Product Dimensions: 10.5 x 8.5 x 1.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #865,791 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

27 of 28 people found the following review helpful By Stephanie Goodell on January 27, 2004
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
If you want to travel into the mind of Artemisia Gentileschi, as Garrard obviously did, this book is an incredible asset to your journey. She takes you through Artemisia's life (Rome, Florence, Naples etc.) from the very first information to her death. Garrard has her ideas, but they are hardly overtly feminist or out of context. The intelligent reader goes beyond the author anyhow and reads the paintings. This book has copies of every known letter to have been written or received by Artemisia and most of her artwork, her complete rape trial, along with comparisons to her father's work and other artists that she had contact with. It is extremely fascinating and a more complete anayalis of an artist's life that I have yet seen. ...and about Susanna- don't tell me for a minute that the woman who painted that strength of repulsion wasn't being threatened (not necessarily by Tassi but likely Cosimo or even Francesco- think about it) have you ever seen a Susanna that genuinely apalled? Most renditions of the tale feature fear, surprise, or complete oblivion (allure even). Her Susanna is truly defensive and angry; horrified and disgusted.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Lucky Girl on June 30, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I think that this work delves significantly into the time that Gentileschi lived, bringing as many details as possible about her that are available to us. It is exceptionally well-researched and thought out. If you truly want to know anything about this artist, I feel it probably is in here somewhere.

But, with that said, it is a very heavy book. Perhaps Garrard may be forgiven for forgetting to explain things that may be evident to her, but I found myself having to go on the internet to look up what she was talking about a lot of the time. I do not specialize in Italian art history, but I have a pretty good foundation in art history. I found her use of phrases in foreign languages without an English translation tiresome, and I didn't like having to flip back forth through the book so often to get the meaning of a thought. If you have to sit by a computer because you know you're going to need it every couple of pages, there is a problem.

My other comment is that, while I respect Garrard's right to an educated opinion, it is just that. For instance, we don't know why Gentileschi painted several Judiths. It was a very popular subject then, and while her court experience and rape might well have led her to want to paint it, we simply do not know. Garrard repeats this and several other opinions ad nauseum, making and already ponderous tome even longer. I find Gentilschi's life and work fascinating, but I gave this book only three stars because, sadly, I am unlikely to have the desire/time to finish it. I am used to reading reference work, used to plodding through academic language, love comparisons with other artists of their time, and I'm willing to go the extra mile to understand an artist's work. But, after awhile I began to feel that Garrard cared more about publishing a brilliant work.

Sadly, I think that Artemisia got a little lost in this.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Suzanne Bilek on May 8, 2013
Format: Hardcover
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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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
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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