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: 

    The Wadsworth Atheneum and the Detroit Institute of Arts are collaborating to present By Her Hand: Artemisia Gentileschi and Women Artists in Italy, 1500–1800. The show capitalizes on the strong presence of Italian Renaissance and Baroque women artists in American and European collections. The organizers’ intent is 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. Because of the pandemic, the exhibition has been postponed; dates are tentative, but it is likely to open in Hartford on September 30, 2021; and in Detroit on February 6, 2022. 

    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


    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)





    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:

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

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

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

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



    The Bennett Collection: Explore >


    Sotheby’s: Explore >


    National Gallery, London: Explore >


    The Art Story: Explore >

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    The History Chicks: Explore >





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