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By Natalia Alyukova

GENRE: Historical, Biography

Four hundred years ago, a young woman took revenge on her rapist in oils and became one of the most successful painters of her time.


ARTEMISIA GENTILESCHI (1593-1653) was a painter's daughter. Trained by her father in his craft, Artemisia harboured the improbable ambition of being accepted as a woman into the Academy of Arts in Florence. At that time, the only way a woman could achieve anything in life was by marrying the right man. So, when her tutor, the painter AGOSTINO TASSI, raped her and was sued for "damaging property", it was Artemisia who faced ruin – both as an artist and a woman. She took her revenge in oils, painting what is now known as her most famous masterpiece: "Judith slaying Holofernes", an iconic feminist symbol. Through a series of humiliating examinations and even torture, Artemisia remained resolute. Tassi was eventually proven guilty. Tassi was imprisoned, and Artemisia moved to Florence, where she set up her own studio, became a successful painter specialising in strong female figures, and was the first woman to attend the Academy of Arts.

Nathaniel Baker

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