Artemisia Gentileschi's Shocking Painting JUDITH SLAYING HOLOFERNES Comes to The Art Institute of Chicago, 10/17 - 1/9
An exceptional loan from the Uffizi Gallery in Florence, Artemisia Gentileschi's shocking Judith Slaying Holofernes (c. 1620), comes to Chicago as the centerpiece of Violence and Virtue: Artemisia Gentileschi's Judith Slaying Holofernes, on view in Galleries 202 and 202A from October 17, 2013 through January 9, 2014. The rare loan from Florence was organized with the Foundation for Italian Art and Culture (FIAC) and coincides with the celebration of the Year of Italian Culture in the United States. The exhibition draws on the rich holdings of the Art Institute and on private collections in Chicago, putting Artemisia Gentileschi's extraordinary work together with paintings, objects, and works on paper by such artists as Lucas Cranach, Jan Sanders van Hemessen, Jacopo de' Barbari, and Felice Ficherelli, thereby enhancing this rare presentation of this truly pioneering and compelling artist.
Renowned for her skill in her own day, Artemisia is famous today as a bold and courageous woman who made her own powerful statement as a painter. Among the first women artists to achieve success in the 17th century, she brought to her work an electric sense of narrative drama and a unique perspective that both celebrated and humanized strong women characters. Rediscovered by feminist art historians in the past few decades, Gentileschi has inspired a spate of books, both scholarly and popular, and a number of films. The daughter of painter Orazio Gentileschi, Artemisia trained in her father's workshop and quickly earned acclaim, completing her first signed painting, a dramatic yet sensitive rendering of Susanna and the Elders, when she was just 17. Her style bears some resemblance to that of her father, who was a follower of Caravaggio, but Artemisia's paintings stand out for their theatricality-the raw emotional intensity of a few figures daringly arranged. The younger Gentileschi's work is also distinctive in its focus on powerful heroines, capturing both their vulnerability and strength, a feature many attribute to events in Gentileschi's own life. While still 17, she was raped by one of her father's colleagues, Agostino Tassi. He was convicted in a trial a year later after Artemisia was tortured to "confirm" her testimony, but Tassi was never punished. Within months of the conclusion of the trial, Artemisia was quickly married and moved to Florence with her new husband.