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216 × 138 × 24 mm
320 pages
69 illustrations, 65 in colour
13 Jul 2020
Renaissance Lives

Artemisia Gentileschi and Feminism in Early Modern Europe Mary D. Garrard

Artemisia Gentileschi is by far the most famous woman artist of the pre-modern era. Her art addresses issues that resonate today, such as sexual violence and women’s problematic access to political power. Her forceful paintings with their vigorous female protagonists have excited modern audiences, especially feminists.

This book breaks new ground by placing the artist in the context of women’s political history, and the feminist protest that was bubbling in early modern Europe. Mary D. Garrard shows that Artemisia most likely knew or knew about contemporary feminist writers such as the Venetians Lucrezia Marinella and Arcangela Tarabotti, and the alignment of her art with their texts is striking. Garrard discusses recently discovered paintings, offers fresh perspectives on known works and examines the artist anew in the context of early modern feminism.

This beautifully illustrated book gives a full portrait of a strong woman and a great artist who fought back through

her art.

‘Artemesia Gentileschi deserves a place in the canon of art history not merely because she was a successful artist in a man's world, but also because she was an exceptionally good painter. This book is more about her place in women's political history than about her art per se, but her art inevitably illuminates her status, life, and career.’ — The Art Newspaper

‘Compelling . . . There’s not a little irony in reading Garrard’s lively account of a seventeenth-century artist’s life wherein plague is plentiful – Artemisia likely died of it – when a plague (or at least pandemic) is back on the table. How strange that a book about the late Renaissance and Baroque would now prove so very much of our time. It’s timely in the sense of the aforementioned deadly and contagious illness, but also features tyranny, religious persecution and reaction. And it is timely in its exploration of feminist outrage at patriarchal power, of men’s control over women’s bodies, and in the exploration of an art of anger, accusation, and even great wit. It’s a lot and it’s awesome . . . Much more than an exploration of a singular female artist of the Italian Baroque, it’s a map of interconnected traditions, intellectual conversations, inspirations and leapfrogging, a whole network of early modern European feminists in conversation with one another, and with us, across time.’ — Hyperallergic

‘No in-depth study of Artemisia’s artistic achievements can ignore the fact that Artemisia was a woman in a man’s world. Placing Artemisia’s life and work in the context of early modern feminism, Garrard’s handy-sized book builds on her groundbreaking study Artemisia Gentileschi: The Image of the Female Hero in Italian Baroque Art . . . Her feminist perspective frequently offers considerable food for thought.’ — Five must-read books about Artemisia Gentileschi, The Art Newspaper

‘Mary Garrard’s return to the great Artemisia Gentileschi is uniquely rich in knowledge and reflection. It is not only an authoritative study of the historical Artemisia and the ways – whether openly brutal, subtly injurious or beneficial – in which her art and life were affected by her sex. It also places her in the “transhistorical community of women” that Garrard brings to life. The book is moreover a heartfelt appeal to writers and readers of art history to account for their own attitudes and experiences. And with all that, it is a pleasure to read.’ — Gary Schwartz, art historian

‘Mary Garrard’s exciting new book on the Italian painter Artemisia Gentileschi marks another formidable contribution to the field by this ground-breaking scholar. Garrard weaves a rich tapestry of women’s voices, arguing that the shared vision of remarkable women of the period reflects a pervasive and influential feminist phenomenon in Europe. This book will provide a provocative source for understanding the pan-European phenomenon of what Garrard aptly terms the “woman on top."’ — Babette Bohn, professor of art history, Texas Christian University and author of 'Women Artists, Their Patrons, and Their Publics in Early Modern Bologna'

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Mary D. Garrard is Professor Emerita of Art History at American University, Washington, DC. Her books include Artemisia Gentileschi: The Image of the Female Hero in Italian Baroque Art (1989) and Brunelleschi’s Egg: Gender, Art and Nature in Renaissance Italy (2010).

1 Artemisia and the Writers: Feminism in Early Modern Europe
2 Sexuality and Sexual Violation: Susanna and Lucretia
3 The Fictive Self: Musicians and Magdalenes
4 Women and Political Power: Judith
5 Battles of the Sexes: Women on Top
6 The Divided Self: Allegorical and Real
7 Matriarchal Succession: The Greenwich Ceiling
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Photo Acknowledgements