HISTORICAL BACKGROUND

In May 1611, the painter Artemisia Gentileschi was seduced and raped by Agostino Tassi, a colleague of her father.
Orazio Gentileschi, a well-known painter had taught his daughter and then often boasted of her exceptional talent. He suggested that Tassi teach Artemisia the principles of perspective. She was working on a painting the day that Tassi forced himself upon her. The loss of her virginity "devalued " her, and as a result, her father sued Tassi for injury and damage. The trial became a public scandal.

From the testimony of Artemisia Gentileschi:
"Your lordship, last year during the month of May, Agostino here present used to frequent my father's house, as he was a friend of my father, and in the same profession. He came to the house as a friend and both my father and I trusted him. One day he came to the house under certain pretexts. . . I trusted him and never would have believed that he would dare rape me and do damage both to me and the friendship he had with my father. And I did not realize it until he grabbed me by the waist, threw me on the bed, closed the door of the room and embraced me to rape me and take away my virginity. Artemisia was asked whether she was prepared to confirm her aforesaid testimony and deposition, as well as everything contained it it. "yes, sir...even under torture and whatever is necessary."

ARTIST'S STATEMENT

This exhibition began with a series of 28 lunar images which correspond to the actual phases of the moon during this fateful period of her life. The locations are places with which she was familiar. They are also places which became familiar to me during my own stays in Rome. I visualize them as places of contemplation where she attempted to gather her thoughts concerning her predicament. Despite the historical distance, we can perhaps imagine the questions she asked herself. Would he marry her, as promised? Did she care for him? Was she pregnant? What would her father think? Could she continue to paint?

Artemisia did continue to paint and in fact supported herself and her family by doing so. The experience focused her efforts through a unique personal lens, resulting in a viewpoint that we are now only beginning to understand.

The next portion of the installation is entitled Night-Sides, It comprises a grid of 12 images whose narrative describes this significant time in the life of the young artist. Also included are a portrait of Artemisia posing for her father, Cosimo and Tuzia conspiring, Orazio and Agostino Tassi, and the Strattesis who were influential in finding a husband for Artemisia to save her reputation.

As a painter who often deals with historical narrative, I aAs a painter who often deals with historical narrative, I am intrigued to reach across centuries and create a narrative concerning Artemisia Gentileschi and her work. The purpose of my project is not to replicate the identity of this artist, but to understand her times and circumstances. Although struggle is intrinsic to making art, Artemisia faced personal and artistic obstacles far greater than those of today. Few artists are remembered beyond their lifetimes, and most works of art are ultimately lost or misidentified. The reemergence of Artemisia Gentileschi in the framework of the lunar cycle thus brings history full circle. This portion of the installation represents aspects of the city in which she was raised, began her career and achieved personal independence.

The Stiattesis
80" x 36", oil on wood, 1998

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Artemisa Poses
80" x 32", oil on wood, 1998

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Usarmi Violenza
44" x 50", oil on linen, 1998

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Piu Tardi
72" x 48", oil on wood, 1998

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Agostino Followed Me
30" x 22", pastel/gesso, 1998

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Roman Fever
5.5" x 15" each, conte & gesso, 1996

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