Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Renaissance Ladies Get No Respect

Self portrait as the Allegory of Painting by Artemesia Gentileschi

Monday  we explored late Gothic into Renaissance art in class.    How often have we heard of and seen the work of da Vinci, Raphael and Michelangelo?  Of course everyone has but do you know of Artemesia Gentileschi ?  I discovered her a few years ago and fell in love with this historical novel of her life.

Great book, def. 5 stars!

She is known mostly for her painting Judith Decapitating Holofernes and for her own self portrait (at top)

Judith Decapitating Holofernes
Gory, biblical and skillfully executed.
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Little did I know that around the same time, also in Italy (60 years or so later),  there was  Sofonisba Anguissola .    She was so good she ended up as a member of the court of the Queen of  Spain. Simultaneously, over in the Netherlands you would have found  Dutch Golden Age painter Judith Leyster known for  her beautifully executed domestic genre (everyday life) paintings. 

The Proposition by Judith Leyster

She married a fellow artist, stopped painting, had children and fell quietly into obscurity.  All of these women were from families of artists. This is actually the reason we don’t hear much of them.  They were literally the women who were behind the men who carried the names. 

The Chess Game by Sofonisba Anguissola

One of Anguissola’s best known works is The Chess Game.  The painting depicts a chess game between three sisters.  Revolutionary in its depiction of a “real moment in time”,  the expressions on the girls’ faces really do tell a story.  The intriguing thing is that this work contains a mysterious element.  It is said that the maid depicted on the right was painted in at a later date.  This appears to be the case as her presence very much throws off the composition of the piece.  In addition her placement is a bit off.  Is she behind or in front?  The big question is, why was she added?

1 comment:

K. Dickson said...

She looks like an older version of the girl on the right. Maybe she's come back at a later date to see how the game turned out. Could it be a self portrait?