by Keith Christiansen, Orazio Gentileschi
This book, which accompanied an exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and traveling both to the St. Louis Art Museum and to the Museo di Palazzo di Venezia in Rome, is the first to examine in one volume both Orazio and Artemesia Gentileschi, father-and-daughter artists of 17th-century Italy. The catalog demonstrates that Orazio Gentileschi follows the Caravaggesque practice of painting from the model, which Artemesia in turn absorbed into her own painting methods. At the same time, curator Christiansen concludes that Orazio painted much more in the elegant style of classical painting in France and never accepted the Baroque idioms of drama and expressiveness that his daughter Artemesia wholeheartedly embraced in her painting. Also discussed in this catalog is the feminist aspect of Artemesia’s position as a talented woman artist, the possibility that she was the model for her own “Susanna and the Elders” early in her career, and how her social environment and opportunities as a woman artist changed dramatically after her marriage and her move from Rome to Florence. This catalog also includes excellent color reproductions and previously unpublished documents relating to the trial of Orazio’s colleague, Agostino Tassi, for raping Artemesia. The scholarly literature on these artists should be advanced considerably by this extremely comprehensive volume. Enthusiastically recommended for all libraries that support programs in art and art history.