A woman in a man’s world. Of over 1,300 artists painting in Italy in the seventeenth century, only a handful were women, and only one of them, Artemisia Gentileschi, is still remembered today.
What skills did it take for a woman to become a painter in 17th century Europe? Artemisia Gentileschi (1593-1654) was by no means the only female painter of her period, but she is a rarity, and she also ranks amongst the greatest painters of the 17th century. Her career spanned a time of great change in Italian taste, from the power and earthiness of Caravaggio, to the more elegant classicism of Reni and Domenichino. Her sense of colour and drama were widely praised, Charles I invited her to London, she was hailed as one of Europe’s foremost artists.
And yet she broke the mould at each stage of her career—from her training in the very male world of the Roman studio to the centring of women’s agency in every canvas. Chantal Brotherton Ratcliffe explores Gentileschi’s ability to paint in a style which is both individual and which also put her in the forefront wherever in Europe she found herself working.
Chantal Brotherton-Ratcliffe MA PhD has over 40 years’ experience as a lecturer. She has taught at Sotheby’s Institute of Art on the MA in Fine and Decorative Arts since 1989, and as a freelance lecturer for a number of societies and institutions in London, including the National Gallery and the Wallace Collection. Having also trained as a paintings conservator, she brings an understanding of the making and the physical painting to her lectures and study sessions.
Title: Esther before Ahasuerus
Artist: Artemisia Gentileschi (Italian, born Rome 1593–died Naples 1654 or later)Back to Events