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Artemisia's Moment

After being eclipsed for centuries by her father, Orazio, Artemisia Gentileschi, the boldest female painter of her time, gets her due

In 1653, shortly after Artemisia’s death, two well-known poets, Pietro Michiele and Gianfrancesco Loredan, the latter of whom had once written love letters to her, collaborated in publishing a poem written in her voice: “In painting the portraits of this one and that one,/ I acquired infinite merit in the world./ In carving the horns [of the cuckold] that I gave to my husband,/ I abandoned the brush and took up the chisel.

 

Although perhaps the sentiments of a rejected suitor, the lines aptly capture Artemisia’s historic dilemma: for centuries her talent was overshadowed by the rumors and scandal surrounding her personal life. Now, she is getting the recognition she felt she deserved. “The works,” she once declared, “will speak for themselves.”

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