Artemisia Gentileschi (1593 - 1653), was one of the first women artists to achieve recognition in the male-dominated world of post-Renaissance art. She was the first woman to paint major historical and religious scenarios, especially in an era when women painters were not easily accepted by the artistic community. She unfortunately is also known for being a rape victim in a well-publicized trial in 1612, an event that later affected her painting style and themes. Our patterns show nearly all of her well recognized works including Susanna and the Elders, Judith Slaying Holofernes, Danaë, Saint Cecilia, and several self-portraits including Self Portrait as a Female Martyr.

Patterns Included In This Set:


Self Portrait

Susanna and the Elders

Judith Slaying Holofernes


Judith and Her Maidservant

Saint Catherine of Alexandria

Portrait of a Condottiero


Self Portrait as a Female Martyr


Maria Maddalena



Susanna and the Elders



The Birth of St. John the Baptist


Self-Portrait as a Lute Player


Sleeping Venus

St Cecilia Playing a Lute

Saint Catherine of Alexandra



Allegory of Inclination

Saint Cecilia

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Artemisia Gentileschi (1593 – 1652 or 1653), was a highly gifted artist of the Italian early Baroque period and the most important female painter of her time. She was one of the first women painters to tackle historical and religious subjects at a time when such themes were considered to be exclusively for men.

Artemisia was born in Rome in 1593. Her father, Orazio Gentileschi, was a respected artist. The young Artemisia showed early talent, which lead her father to take her into his workshop where she learned how to paint, draw and mix colors. Orazio’s style was strongly influenced by Caravaggio and Artemisia eagerly soaked up this approach. By the age of 17 the talented young painter had already produced a dramatic interpretation of the biblical theme of Susanna and the Elders, where she depicts the two guilty men clearly planning to sexually harass the hapless Susanna.

Despite showing such outstanding promise, Artemisia was rejected from studying at the Rome art academy because of her sex, so in 1612 her father hired one of his colleagues, Agostino Tassi, to give Artemisia private lessons. He seduced and raped her. Artemisia was 19 years old, and her father pressured Tassi to marry her. Tassi agreed, then reneged. Orazio brought a charge of rape, leading to a high profile trial which lasted for seven months. The trial was an ordeal for Artemisia. Not only was she forced to undergo a public examination by midwives to prove that she had been recently “deflowered”, but she was also tortured, a common procedure used in those days to determine whether a witness was telling the truth or not. With no other outlet for her despair, Artemisia painted a dramatic Judith Slaying Holofernes (1612-1613), notable for the calculating way in which Judith exacts her revenge. The trial ended with Tassi being given a one-year prison sentence.

Within a month of the trial ending, Orazio married his daughter off to a Florentine painter in order to restore her honor. The couple moved to Florence where they had five children, but only one daughter, Prudenzia, survived.

Artemisia was a huge success in Florence. Her talent was recognized and she did not experience the discrimination she had suffered in Rome. She was the first female painter to be accepted to the Academy of Arts of Drawing and she soon won the favors of a series of influential patrons. Yet despite her success, financial circumstances caused Artemisia to leave Florence and return to Rome.

Artemisia set up her studio in Rome in 1621, and also a home for her daughters, for by this time she had both left her husband and given birth to another daughter. She started to search for patrons and to teach her daughters painting, but both these endeavors proved to be unsuccessful. Her daughters showed no talent for art and, despite the good reputation she brought from Florence, she was unable to find any commissions except for portrait painting. So sometime between 1627 and 1630 Artemisia moved once again, this time to Venice where she raised her daughters and painted Self-Portrait as the Allegory of Painting, one of her most important works.

Records of the time show that in 1637 Artemisia needed money to pay for her daughter’s wedding and so she went to work with her father in England. Orazio had been appointed as court painter to King Charles I of England and he had been given a very important commission, decorating a ceiling in a royal palace in Greenwich. Charles, who was an avid art collector, was impressed by Artemisia’s talent and invited her to remain at his court. She stayed there from 1638 until civil war broke out in 1641.

It is not known exactly when Artemisia returned to Naples, but she is known to have been very active there from 1649 until her death. Although there is much speculation, it is not known how or even when Artemisia died as no records have been found. Her works drifted into obscurity after her death. An important contemporary art historian is quoted as saying Artemisia has suffered a scholarly neglect that is unthinkable for an artist of her caliber.

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