Artemisia Gentileschi (1593-1653) was one of the first well-known female painters. The movie tells the story of her youth, when she was guided and protected by her father, the painter ...
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Artemisia Gentileschi (1593-1653) was one of the first well-known female painters. The movie tells the story of her youth, when she was guided and protected by her father, the painter Orazio Gentileschi. Her professional curiosity about the male anatomy, forbidden for her eyes, led her to the knowledge of sexual pleasure. But she was also well known because in 1612 she had to appear in a courtroom because her teacher, Agostino Tassi, was suspected of raping her. She tried to protect him, but was put in the thumb screws...Written by
The movie is a biography of the painter Artemisia Gentileschi, but many major details of her life were changed, leading to widespread criticism. In the movie, the relationship between Artemisia and Agostino is portrayed as a beautiful love affair, and the reason Artemisia is is tortured is because she refuses to testify that he raped her. In reality, Agostino really did rape Artemisia (and other women), and the reason she was tortured was because she did testify in court that he had raped her. See more »
Note the inoculation scar on her lover's bicep (story was set in 1610). See more »
My sources tell me that this biopic of the one of the few influential female artists of the time has sacrificed a lot of historical veracity in the name of dramatic license. The film focuses on the earlier part of her life, specifically the relationship with her tutor Tassi, ignoring her rise to prominence later which is revealed in a pre-credit titles coda at the end of the film. Given that Artemisia Gentileschi is hardly a household name, even in the art world, I for one was looking forward to at least some degree of enlightenment towards the subject. That Tassi murdered his wife and child and had an incestuous relationship with sister is ignored by the film, instead playing him as straightforward love interest of little other dimension. The featured painting of 'Judith and Holofernes' was also painted some eight years after the events portrayed. Some concessions to cinematic narrative structure are understandable, but to totally disregard key facts is unforgivable. As for Artemisia herself, there is little surviving information other than a basic outline of her life, but dramatically director Merlet doesn't seem to know which way to play this. Little insight is provided for her as a person, nor for her motivation as an artist, other than that as a martyr to the patriarchal order of the day archetype. As such, she is never truly convincing as the child prodigy artist. Instead her relevance is reduced to that of a cipher in a bog-standard romantic tragedy, and the overwhelming thought as one leaves the cinema is 'So what?' On a visual level, the film is colourful, if a little conservative, at its best when taking in the rigorous working methods and assorted paraphernalia of the artists practising at the time. Unfortunately this is the sum of the informative merit in what amounts to no more than another polished yet undistinguished costume drama with the odd dash of titillatory nudity. For all that, Artemisia herself (Valentina Cervi) is certainly a little cutie and the film is never a chore to watch, but at the end of the day it merely whetted my appetite for more knowledge on the subject.
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