Tag Archives: Biography

ARTEMISIA GENTILESCHI: Illuminating Women Artists – REVIEW

Litercurious Book Review

Artemisia Gentileschi Sheila Barker
TitleArtemisia Gentileschi (Illuminating Women Artists)
AuthorDoctor Sheila Barker Ph.D
PublisherGetty Publications (February 15, 2022)
FormatHardcover
Pages144
GenreIndividual Artist Monographs / Art History (Books)
Women’s Biographies
LanguageEnglish
ISBN 10/131606067338 / 978-1606067338

AUTHOR

Holding a PhD in art history from Columbia University, Sheila Barker works at one of the leading Digital Humanities laboratories for the exploration of Renaissance history: The Medici Archive Project, a non-profit that is based in the USA but

carries out its work in Florence. There, in 2010, Doctor Barker founded the world’s first archival research program dedicated to women artists, which was recently given an award by the Society for the Study of Early Modern Women for the “Best digital scholarship, new media, or web -based project of 2014.” In addition to publishing on women artists of the 16th-19th centuries, she has published on Poussin, Michelangelo, plagues and art, early modern news circulation, Urban VIII, Maria de’ Medici, and the contributions of Medici women to pharmacy and medical science.

Source: Excerpt taken from: Dr. Sheila Barker LinkedIn profile.

SYNOPSIS

Artemisia Gentileschi (Illuminating Women Artists) is a laudatory, panegyric on the life and times of this remarkably talented Baroque artist. This biographical monograph is the second book of the sub-series of Illuminating Women Artist: Renaissance and Baroque, by Sheila Barker. In Artemisia Gentileschi, Barker has produced an authoritative account of the artist that is appropriate for knowledgeable art enthusiasts and those with an academic interest.

Artemisia Gentileschi (1593-1654) was the protégé and daughter of the illustrious and prolific artist, sculpture, architect, designer and internationally renowned Renaissance painter, Orazio Lomi Gentileschi (1563–1639). Artemisia was especially renowned in her time for her ability to paint complex large-scale compositions, as well as her ability to mix exquisite blues; considered a valuable skill during the period. Her skills and artistic abilities were appreciated at home, in Italy, and internationally; in such diverse locations as Florence, Rome, Venice, Naples, and London. Her works convey a strong pictorial intelligence; with technical expertise equally as powerful as some of her male contemporaries. In recent times, Artemisia is becoming popular among collectors as new examples of her work are being discovered, increasing her oeuvre.

Artemisia Gentileschi is written as a comprehensive, detailed, historic, biographical, chronology of the life, times, travels, and work of this little known artist. Barker details the numerous challenges, tragedies and successes of this renaissance female. The imprint is grandiose in its span and breadth, detailing this International Baroque artist’s life and work. The publication is illustrated throughout with the highest-quality plates that depict many of Artemisia’s most notable works.

Barker details the artist, her attributed works, and her documented international travels during her life from her formative years through her active professional period. She discusses Artemisia’s commission for Urban VIII, Maria de’Medici in Venice, her later works and even her private life; finally, culminating in an account of Artemisia’s mysterious death and the search to find her final resting place.

CONCLUSION

Artemisia Gentileschi by Doctor Barker is an intricate and detailed analysis and expertly crafted eulogistic work on this much maligned female artist. Barker shines a light in this biographical account of the newly discovered archival finds.

My first impression of Artemisia Gentileschi: Illuminating Women Artists, is that the entire package is of the highest quality. Exceptional plates commingle in unity with the learned prose; accompanied by a comprehensive range of supportive content, references, image credits, a list of manuscripts and detailed bibliographical material. There is a subtle balance between the stunning imagery depicted by the large vibrant and dynamic images of Artemisia’s original works; works that stand as a testament to her unique and exceptional talents.

I’m mesmerized by the large, full color plates of her oversized and detailed paintings. The plates depicting numerous technically exceptional scenes executed with the grace and ease of an expert.

It seems, at times, that each consecutive plate exuded a greater level of technical excellence than the last. I’m struck by the diversity of subjects, poses, color harmony and hues combining to present powerful visual narratives that thrill the eyes and stir the senses. The imagery is not limited to the work of Artemisia, but is accompanied by examples of her contemporaries that include both Renaissance and Baroque Masters such as: her father Orizio; Van Dyck; Coppola, (a personal favorite I share with Artemisia) and Caravaggio.

Artemisia Gentileschi contains a plethora of dense and concise information. My favorite section discusses the opinions of her peers about her work. In the section entitled ‘Mizia,’ the author delves deeper into the observations and opinions of Artemisia’s burgeoning latent talents that were self-evident to her mature peers. I particularly enjoyed the section titled ‘Aquiring Skills,’ where the author introduces us to the opinions of other contemporary artists of her first foray into design; even though she was not yet a teenager.

This work is an exceptional piece of writing and as such will only really be appreciated by an elite few. Those who will find it most edifying are likely to be: art connoisseurs, art historians, art aficionados, art collectors, conservators, librarians, art graduates, students studying advanced degrees, historians, and archivists. In addition to these professionals, private artists may also enjoy the rewards of owning a copy. Artemisia Gentileschi is exceptional in every way and it along with the Illuminating Women Artist series is absolutely irreplaceable as a reference in any quality library.

Artemisia Gentileschi‘s biography by Sheila Barker Ph.D., has inspired me to read and research her work in greater detail. I discovered that a Gallery exhibition was recently held, posthumously, in her honor. It is pleasing to read that, at last, Artemisia’s first exhibition opened to some acclaim. It is a well deserved accolade that was long overdue; and at least the tiny portion of her attributed works were being openly acknowledged in recognition of her stellar achievements.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

I would like to thank Doctor Sheila Barker Ph.D, Getty Publications, and NetGalley for affording me the opportunity to review Artemisia Gentileschi (Illuminating Women Artists).

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