Artemisia Gentileschi

Esther Before Ahasuerus

  • Artemisia Gentileschi (Italian, 1593c.1654)
  • Oil on canvas, 208.3 x 273.7 cm
  • 16281635
  • The Metropolitan Museum of Art


    Artemisia Gentileschi was among the first female members of the Accademia di Arte del Disegno in Florence. She had an international clientele, including members of the Medici house, and Charles I of England. Early in her career, she survived not only the trauma of abuse at the hands of a teacher, but also the trauma of the subsequent public trial. She, like her painter father Orazio Gentileschi, was a follower of Caravaggio. Trained in Rome, she also lived and worked in Florence and Naples; and she spent some time in London. She specialized in painting pictures of strong and suffering women from myths, allegories, and the Bible.

    Learn more about Gentileschi’s painting, Esther Before Ahasuerus: The Met

    Learn more about Gentileschi’s painting Self-Portrait as Clio: The Bennett Collection of Women Realists


    Upcoming and past exhibitions featuring Artemisia Gentileschi: 

    Now you See Us: Women Artists in Britain, 15201920; Tate Britain, May 16–October 13, 2024.

    Making Her Mark: A History of Women Artists in Europe, 1400–1800 at the Art Gallery of Ontario from March 30–July 1, 2024. The show was on previously (October 1, 2023–January 7, 2024) at the Baltimore Museum of Art

    Maestras: Women Artists at Arp Museum from February 25–June 16, 2024. The exhibition was previously hosted (October 31, 2023–February 4, 2024) at Museo Nacional Thyssen-Bornemisza in Madrid.

    In 2021–2, the Wadsworth Atheneum and the Detroit Institute of Arts collaborated to present By Her Hand: Artemisia Gentileschi and Women Artists in Italy, 1500–1800. The show capitalized on the strong presence of Italian Renaissance and Baroque women artists in American and European collections. The organizers’ intent was to introduce to the public a “diverse and dynamic” group of female Old Masters, including not only Gentileschi but also court artist Sofonisba Anguissola, printer and painter Elisabetta Sirani, and other talented, but now virtually unknown, women artists. The show ran in Hartford from September 30, 2021 to January 9, 2022. It ran in Detroit from February 6 through May 29, 2022. Read the Art Herstory review of the Hartford iteration of the exhibition here.

    From September 26, 2021 to January 23, 2022, the Rijksmuseum Twenthe hosted Artemisia. Vrouw & Macht. Participating in the recent “rediscovery” of the artist, the show explored Artemisia’s turmoil and money problems, her break with her father and his artistic practice, motherhood and the loss of her children, her international clients and reputation in a male-dominated world, the cultural networks, and her dealings with her own body. It displayed 20 paintings by the artist integrated with 20 paintings by her male contemporaries. It was the largest exhibition (to date) in the Netherlands of Artemisia’s art.

    At Milan’s Palazzo Reale in Spring 2021, the exhibition Le Signore dell’Arte. Storie di donne tra ’500 e ’600 celebrated the art and the extraordinary lives of 34 different women artists, including Artemisia Gentileschi, as well as Elisabetta SiraniGiovanna Garzoni, Sofonisba Anguissola, Lavinia Fontana, Ginevra Cantofoli, Fede Galizia, and more. It showcased some 150 paintings from no fewer than 67 different lenders, including many Italian museums; the Musée des Beaux Arts in Marseille; and Muzeum Narodowe in Poznan, Poland.

    The UK’s first-ever solo exhibition of Artemisia Gentileschi’s works opened at London’s National Gallery on October 3, 2020. “Artemisia” ran until January 24, 2021. The show brought together some 35 works from public and private collections around the world. “Artemisia” featured some of her best-known paintings and self portraits, as well as more recently discovered works, and gave visitors a unique chance to encounter this female Old Master. The show had originally been scheduled to open on April 4, but was delayed due to the pandemic. Exhibition 

    Books about Artemisia Gentileschi


    Artemisia Gentileschi and the Business of Art, by Christopher Marshall (Princeton University Press, 2024)

    Artemisia Gentileschi, by Sheila Barker (Lund Humphries, 2022; North American edition published by Getty Publications, 2022)


    Lives of Artemisia Gentileschi, introduced by Sheila Barker (Getty Publications, 2021)


    Artemisia, by Letizia Treves with other authors (National Gallery & Yale University Press, 2020)


    Veritas: Poems after Artemisia, by Jacqueline Saphra, with a Foreword by Jordana Pomeroy (Hercules Editions, 2020)


    Artemisia Gentileschi and Feminism in Early Modern Europe, by Mary D. Garrard (Reaktion Books, 2020) 


    Artemisia Gentileschi, by Jonathan Jones (Laurence King, 2020)


    Artemisia Gentileschi in a Changing Light, edited by Sheila Barker (Brepols, 2017)


    Artemisia Gentileschi: The Language of Painting, by Jesse Locker (Yale University Press, 2015; paperback, 2021)


    Orazio and Artemisia Gentileschi, edited by Keith Christiansen and Judith W. Mann (The Metropolitan Museum, 2013)


    The Artemisia Files: Artemisia Gentileschi for Feminists and Other Thinking People, edited by Mieke Bal (University of Chicago Press, 2005)


    Artemisia Gentileschi around 1622: The Shaping and Reshaping of an Artistic Identity, by Mary D. Garrard (University of California Press, 2001)


    Artemisia Gentileschi and the Authority of Art: Critical Reading and Catalogue Raisonné, by R. Ward Bissell (Penn State Press, 1999)


    Artemisia Gentileschi: The Image of the Female Hero in Italian Baroque Art, by Mary Garrard (Princeton University Press, 1991)





    Disobedient: A Novel, by Elizabeth Freemantle (Pegasus Press, 2023; distributed by Simon & Schuster)


    What a Woman Can Do: A Novel Based on the Life of Artemisia Gentileschiby Peg A. Lamphier (Barbera Foundation Inc, 2021)


    Fierce Dreamer: A Novel, by Linda Lafferty (Lake Union Publishing, 2020)


    Artemisia, by Alex Connor (Cranthorpe Millner Publishers, 2019)


    I Know What I Am: The Life and Times of Artemisia Gentileschi, by Gina Siciliano (Fantagraphics, 2019)


    Blood Water Paint, by Joy McCullough (Penguin Random House, 2018)


    Artemisia, by Anna Banti (Bison Books, 2003)


    The Passion of Artemisia, by Susan Vreeland (Headline Book Publishing, 2002)


    Learn more online about Artemisia Gentileschi at:

    Guest posts on the Art Herstory blog:

    Exhibiting Artemisia Gentileschi; From the Connoisseur’s Collection to the Global Museum Blockbuster, by Christopher R. Marshall

    Artemisia Gentileschi: What Wasn’t in the London Exhibition and Why it Matters, by Jesse Locker

    “Artemisia” at the National Gallery: A Review, by Sheila McTighe

    Two of a Kind: Giovanna Garzoni & Artemisia Gentileschi, by Mary D. Garrard

    The Priceless Legacy of Artemisia Gentileschi, by Judith W. Mann 


    The Bennett Collection: Explore >


    Sotheby’s: Explore >


    National Gallery, London: Explore >


    The Art Story: Explore >

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    Artemisia Gentileschi

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