Women artists who were not given any recognition because of the male dominated society. Artemisia Gentileschi

Artemisia Gentileschi


Artemisia Gentileschi who lived between the year 1593 and the year 1652 is considered to be one of the few women who made a breakthrough in arts during a period that it was considered a man’s business. There were very many important male artists during the period Artemisia exploited her talent of painting. During this period women were considered to incapable of becoming an artist. However, she did her best and commanded respect from her male counterparts by seeking recognition across the globe.

The current reputation of Artemisia is normally clouded by her history of triumph over challenges in the male dominated profession and also victimhood she underwent. The reputation can even be still bound up with the oppressive cultural norms and beliefs that were present during the period she exploited her talent. Artemisia however uses her artistic skills to show how much challenges she was undergoing as a female artist amongst several male artists.

This paper is therefore going to discuss how Artemisia changes the female perspective through her paintings featuring female protagonist. The paintings of Artemisia that are going to be discussed in this paper include Suzanne and the elders which tries to show Suzanne as the victim of the male dominated society,  Judith, Judith beheading Holofernes and her own portrait.

Suzanne and the elders

This work of Artemisia was influenced to some extent the misconceptions that prevailed during her time as an artist. The painting actually show picture of Suzanne being sexually accosted by two elders, from the painting one is able to see that Suzanne is actually undergoing a traumatic event in her life. These works of Suzanne and the elders were done severally by Artemisia to show how she matured in her artistically works.

The first painting of Suzanne and the elders was done in the year 1610 and it is believed that this work Artemisia did in collaboration with her father. Having a close look at the painting one is able to see that Artemisia has presented Suzanne as a traumatized young girl who is accosted sexually by two elders and does not do anything to challenge them. Her dress is loose on her laps and even her private parts are exposed.

The painting is very plain and only presents the theme. The background of the painting is actually so simple with the clouds represented as the only background. This work shows how premature Artemisia is as far as painting and this is her first time in the art industry. The painting not only shows how premature Artemisia was in the art industry but how women were naïve of their thoughts and rights. This actually explains why all the professions were dominated by men.

  First painting in 1610

The second work of Suzanne and the elders was done by Artemisia in the year 1622 and it really presented the maturity on her part. The painting was set on a good background with Suzanne’s legs immersed in a pool of water. Suzanne is presented to be much composed and elegant; she does not pity herself so much and seems to have a stand. The girl is much composed and used the cloth to cover her private parts.

Suzanne is more mature in this painting and even the elders have estated on making their moves to her. The maturity of this painting represents the development of the artistic herself. She appears to be no longer afraid of her female counterparts and she is becoming courageous in the industry as a female artist competing amongst several artists.

 Second painting 1622

The third painting of Suzanne and the Elders was done in the year 1649 by Artemisia and the painting was very impressive. The painting was used by Artemisia to display the sensitivity of narrative interpretation. Suzanne is presented to have a trough of water besides her and the towel on her groins. This simply shows how creative Artemisia was growing over the given period of time.

Artemisia presents Susanna to be very composed and is able to fight for herself. This image is a reflection of Artemisia herself in the art industry. She presents herself to be able to fight for space amongst her male counterparts. By the act of Suzanne pushing away one of the elders it is an indication that Artemisia is actually displacing her male counterparts in the art industry. this image shows a mature Susanne  and reflects a mature Artemisia.

 The third painting of Suzanne and the Elders in1649

Judith beheading Holofernes

This is the second painting discussed in this paper with an aim of identifying the theme was trying to express through it. Artemisia did this painting in two different versions with each of them having their own distinctive themes.

The first version was done between the year 1620 and the year 1621 and it depicted Judith beheading the Holofernes the Assyrian general with the help of her maid servant. In this version both Judith and her maid servant are two young women who have turned to become violent. This painting was done before Artemisia met Galileo. This version presents holoferne’s blood to drip gently into the bed sheet. This actually shows the solidarity among women and how they can be be violent when provoked. It amy be due to the hatred she had for Tassi who raped her.

The first version of Judith beheading Holofernes  

The second version of Judith beheading Holofernes which she painted 20 years later after meeting Galileo involved sparkling of blood to show the violent nature of women when provoked. And her Judith’s maid servant Abra was a old woman who carried a bag ready to keep Holoferne’s head. This is a true reflection of Artemisia herself. This painting has been used by Artemisia to show women that they are capable of empowering themselves and rise above men. The painting actually is a belief of Artemisia as far as profession is concerned. She believed that she had to fight against men in a profession they virtually dominated. She fought against them and rose to be a renowned female artist during her time

 The second version of Judith beheading Holofernes

Self portrait s the Allegory of painting

The painting represents Artemisia as fully grown woman who is mature enough even from her own looks. Artemisia painted herself as Lute player. The self portrait represents a woman who is not bothered by societal pressure and is happy of whatever she is doing. The release from societal pressure may have been fueled with the rape encounter she had when still a young girl.

Through this self portrait Artemisia presents how independent women can be provided they are given the opportunity. She shows how she has made a place for herself in the art industry. Despite all the challenges she has undergone she has come out of all them strong and victorious. The self portrait was a work meant to empower women to work hard and compete favorably with men in all sectors of interests. She actually shows women to rise above social and cultural norms and give the male counterparts a chase for their efforts all spheres of life.


The rape incident that occurred in the Artemisia life promulgated her to fight hard against men and show that women were equally capable just as men were. She had a strong personality that most women lacked during her period no wonder she was the only female artist that came to lime light during her period. She grew up around men after her mother died when she was only 12 years of age and this can be considered a factor that made it very possible for her to rise alongside men. She acted as a role model and championed for the women as this explains why most of her paintings were associated with energetic women.

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