Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Artemisia Gentileschi on BBC4 and iPlayer

Yesterday, BBC4 broadcast a film about the story of 17th-century Italian artist Artemisia Gentileschi called Michael Palin's Quest for Artemisia.

I'm assuming Michael's name figures first in the title as he's beginning to get a bit of a reputation for doing programmes about leading artists.
I'm highlighting this latest programme here as not everybody will have spotted it in the schedules plus I know that people seem to be able to watch the BBC from outside the UK - I don't ask how!) and/or get the BBC's art programmes at a later date.

Key points for me:

  • Her story is very unusual and my jaw kept dropping at the nature of justice for women in 17th century Italy.  The nature of her background - and the rape and the rape trial and the torture - seems to have influenced the nature of her paintings. During the trial, she was painting a woman cutting a man’s head off. I don't find it at all surprising that she kept reprising paintings of a woman cutting off a man's head! Judith Slaying Holofernes is the painting she was working on during the trial
  • one can well understand why she may have been taken up as a 'cause' by feminists promoting women artists - but it does make me wonder if one stereotype substitutes for another
  • I was fascinated by how many times she seems to have painted herself - both metaphorically and in reality - and sometimes more than once in the same painting. I kept wondering how she'd managed to get a perspective on certain angles of her face.
  • Her paintings have become very valuable - and hence there is an incentive to find works by her
  • There is no complete record of her work - and developing one is made more complicated by the fact her style of painting changed over time. New works are being discovered and at the same time other works are being accredited to her which probably should not.

Reviews of the programme

Artemisia Gentileschi - Self-Portrait as a Lute Player
These are the websites of some of the people who appeared in the film

More information about Artemisa Gentileschi





1 comment:

Kimberly Kelly Santini said...

I love the stories of women artists, in particular those from 50+ years back. Women have had to work so much harder for things that male artists (or males of any walk of life, for that matter), and it's a great reminder of why I personally continue to press to get better and for more opportunities. Here is a wonderful book by Susan Vreeland on Artemesia's life, too - it was terribly moving.


Thanks so much for a great blog - I don't comment as often as I used to, but you can bet I'm reading and enjoying it!! Happy new year! Kim

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