Historical Fiction about Women Painters
Chapter 3. Interpreting the Paintings of Artemisia Gentileschi: Biography as Feminist Art Criticism
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INTERPRETING THE PAINTINGS OF ARTEMISIA GENTILESCHI
Biography as Feminist Art Criticism
“You think me pitiful, because a woman’s name raises doubtsuntil her work is seen…I shall not bore you any longer with thiswomanly chatter. The works will speak for themselves…And Iwill show Your Most Illustrious Lordship what a woman can do,hoping to give you the greatest pleasure…you will find the spiritof Caesar in this soul of a woman.”—Artemisia Gentileschi, excerpts from her 1649 letters to art collector Don Antonio Ruffo (Garrard Artemisia Gentileschi: The Image of the Female Hero in Italian Baroque Art 390–392, 394, 397)
In “The Feminist Critique of Art History,” Thalia Gouma-Peterson and Patricia Mathews provide a history of feminist interventions in the field of art history. They credit Linda Nochlin and her acclaimed article “Why Are There No Great Women Artists?” with beginning the feminist movement in art history in 1971 (326). Nochlin’s claim that “there have been no supremely great women artists…although there have been many interesting and very good ones who remain insufficiently investigated or appreciated” (2) could not be fully evaluated until forgotten and female artists were rediscovered.1 As Gouma-Peterson and Mathews observe, recovering the history of women’s art was a first step in feminists’ efforts to understand and analyze women’s roles ← 47 | 48 → in art history (351). After observing the underrepresentation of women artists in museum galleries and exhibitions, first generation feminist...
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