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The Passion of Artemisia

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From extraordinary highs - patronage by the Medicis, friendship with Galileo and, most importantly of all, beautiful and outstandingly original paintings - to rape by her father's colleague, torture by the Inquisition, life-long struggles for acceptance by the artistic Establishment, and betrayal by the men she loved, Artemisia was a bold and brilliant woman who lived as s From extraordinary highs - patronage by the Medicis, friendship with Galileo and, most importantly of all, beautiful and outstandingly original paintings - to rape by her father's colleague, torture by the Inquisition, life-long struggles for acceptance by the artistic Establishment, and betrayal by the men she loved, Artemisia was a bold and brilliant woman who lived as she wanted, and paid a high price.


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From extraordinary highs - patronage by the Medicis, friendship with Galileo and, most importantly of all, beautiful and outstandingly original paintings - to rape by her father's colleague, torture by the Inquisition, life-long struggles for acceptance by the artistic Establishment, and betrayal by the men she loved, Artemisia was a bold and brilliant woman who lived as s From extraordinary highs - patronage by the Medicis, friendship with Galileo and, most importantly of all, beautiful and outstandingly original paintings - to rape by her father's colleague, torture by the Inquisition, life-long struggles for acceptance by the artistic Establishment, and betrayal by the men she loved, Artemisia was a bold and brilliant woman who lived as she wanted, and paid a high price.

30 review for The Passion of Artemisia

  1. 5 out of 5

    B the BookAddict

    Susan Vreeland fairly faithfully follows and recounts the real events in the life of 17th century Italian Baroque painter Artemisia Gentileschi Lomi. Passionate about her art, she fought for acceptance in the artistic community and was the first woman to become a member of the Accademia di Arte del Disegno in Florence. Raped at seventeen, Artemisia was indignant when her father, Tuscan painter Orazio Gentilesch, was paid off by her rapist to drop the charges. She had suffered during this male or Susan Vreeland fairly faithfully follows and recounts the real events in the life of 17th century Italian Baroque painter Artemisia Gentileschi Lomi. Passionate about her art, she fought for acceptance in the artistic community and was the first woman to become a member of the Accademia di Arte del Disegno in Florence. Raped at seventeen, Artemisia was indignant when her father, Tuscan painter Orazio Gentilesch, was paid off by her rapist to drop the charges. She had suffered during this male oriented trial, tortured with the Sibille, a type of medieval thumbscrews and has her lack of virginity publicly examined by two midwives in front to the entire courtroom. “[…] I started Judith Slaying Holofernes. I could hardly bend my fingers to grasp the egg-shaped muller to pulverise the pigments on my marble slab. Pain is unimportant. I have to ignore it. I couldn’t keep my thumb in the hole of my palette […] The smears of colour made me breathe faster. Steeling myself against the pull of my skin when I held a brush, […] My heart quaked. I felt alive again.” Artmisia’s magnificent rendition of the well-known medieval and Baroque subject gives you an idea of her emotion. ‘Judith beheading Holofernes’ was completed in her late teens: Artemisia depicts herself as Judith and her rapist, the painter Agostino Tassi, as Holofernes. Married off by her father to an artist from Florence, Artemisia struggled to make a good married life in her new town. She finally gained acceptance into the Academy and enjoyed the patronage of the Medici family and Charles I. She favoured painting works of strong and suffering women from myth and the Bible – victims, suicides, warriors – and made it her speciality to paint the Judith story (from the Old Testament). Florence was a successful place for the artist but eventually her sullied reputation followed her. This and her realization of her husband’s affair sent Artemisia and daughter to Genoa. She painted her beautiful rendition of Cleopatra and the Asp: Settled and happy in Genoa for nine years, she is forced to flee back to Rome when her father and her rapist move to Genoa. In Rome, she will have to resort to portrait painting, for one thing and then there is how some people greeted her, with that old stigma "whore".... “Inclinazione may have been beautiful. […] For me, the pleasure had been visual, in creating the shape and applying the colour, and tactile, in smearing heavy creamy paint onto my palette…” “The two things I wanted most in life - painting and love – and one had killed off any chance of the other.” Definitions of the word ‘passion’ are: affection, anger, ardor, dedication, devotion, excitement , feeling, fervor, fury, intensity, spirit, temper, warmth, and zeal. There is no doubt Artemisia felt each and every one of these emotions about her art and her life as a painter. Vreeland successfully draws for you a physical and emotional portrait of an artist who would be remembered long after her lifetime. The author adeptly lured me into Artemisia’s world, her painting and her life so successfully that at the novel’s close, I spent hours on the Internet images of her work. 4★

  2. 4 out of 5

    Candi

    "If a person loves something above all else, if he values the work of his heart and hands, then he should naturally, without hesitation, pour into it his whole soul, undivided and pure. Great art demands nothing less." Artemisia Gentileschi, 17th century Italian Baroque painter, was passionate about her life’s work. Author Susan Vreeland presents a compelling glimpse at one of the most fascinating and progressive artists of her time. Artemisia is raped by her father’s colleague, scrutinized and t "If a person loves something above all else, if he values the work of his heart and hands, then he should naturally, without hesitation, pour into it his whole soul, undivided and pure. Great art demands nothing less." Artemisia Gentileschi, 17th century Italian Baroque painter, was passionate about her life’s work. Author Susan Vreeland presents a compelling glimpse at one of the most fascinating and progressive artists of her time. Artemisia is raped by her father’s colleague, scrutinized and tortured by the courts, treated as a wrongdoer rather than a victim, and scorned by the people of Rome. Yet despite the turmoil of her young life, she overcomes all this and goes on to paint what are considered some of the most brilliant paintings of all time. She becomes the first woman ever accepted into the prestigious Accademia di Arte del Disegno in Florence. The story of Artemisia’s life is one of betrayal, the meaning of forgiveness, and the relationships between fathers and daughters and mothers and daughters. It’s about the role of women in a male-dominated society and profession, as well as the powerful influence of the Vatican in matters outside the boundaries of religion alone. There are some gorgeous descriptions of not just Artemisia’s work, but of the art produced by other accomplished masters of Italy as well. Having no talent for art whatsoever, I still get caught up in the expressive language and descriptions of paintings and sculptures and did so once again. As Artemisia’s name becomes known and her creativity sought after, she moves within Italy as patrons summon and commission her to paint for them. The cities of Florence, Genoa, Naples, Venice and Rome come alive for the reader, as they did for Artemisia. "Every shade of yellow ochre, sienna, orange, cinnamon, and dull green powders spilled out of large muslin bags onto the street. The colors of my new city. In every piazza a sculpture, in every niche the patron saint of some guild. Everywhere I looked, art! A new life was opening for me." Yet, despite all this, Artemisia is followed throughout her life by the shadow of the monstrous crime committed against her, by the bitterness towards the perpetrator and towards her father whose actions surrounding the trial trouble her spirit. She struggles to make sense of a daughter who would choose love over painting. An engaging and enjoyable piece of historical fiction, The Passion of Artemisia lacked a bit of a connection to its characters. I admired Artemisia, but felt a bit distanced from her. Perhaps simply because I lack the passion for making art myself – although I marvel at the beauty of works of art. The narrative was a bit rushed at certain times, squeezing in a large portion of her life into a fairly short book, considering. I have to say that the ending was moving and splendidly written. I would recommend this book to anyone interested in reading about the life of an artist and perhaps historical fiction lovers in general. 3.5 stars rounded up

  3. 5 out of 5

    Connie G

    Artemisia Gentileschi was an Italian 17th Century painter who was taught by her Roman painter father, Orazio Gentileschi. Many of her works are in the style of Caravaggio who used chiaroscuro (a dark background with light shining on the main figures in the scene.) Artemisia painted strong, assertive women, often from Biblical stories, such as various versions of "Judith Slaying Holofernes." Author Susan Vreeland opens the book at the trial of artist Agostino Tassi who was accused of raping Artemi Artemisia Gentileschi was an Italian 17th Century painter who was taught by her Roman painter father, Orazio Gentileschi. Many of her works are in the style of Caravaggio who used chiaroscuro (a dark background with light shining on the main figures in the scene.) Artemisia painted strong, assertive women, often from Biblical stories, such as various versions of "Judith Slaying Holofernes." Author Susan Vreeland opens the book at the trial of artist Agostino Tassi who was accused of raping Artemisia. Tassi got off easier than Artemisia who was subjected to torture during the questioning and public humiliation. Her father was also very insensitive to her feelings during the trial. One wonders if that ordeal contributed to Artemisia choosing to paint strong heroines, rather than delicate submissive women. Her father arranged a marriage for her with a painter from Florence, Pierantonio Stiattesi. The couple had five children, although only the one surviving daughter is mentioned in Vreeland's novel. Artemisia was honored to be the first woman to be awarded membership in the Accademia delle Arti del Disegno. However, it caused a rift between her and her husband because he had not been admitted yet. When debts piled up, Artemisia and her daughter traveled to Genoa, Venice, Rome, and Naples where she had important patrons. Vreeland invented two nuns who were Artemisia's childhood teachers in convent school. Her correspondence with the nuns throughout the story gave us insight into Artemisia's concerns, and the sisters wrote back advice and encouragement. There was a modern sensibility that sometimes crept into the letters. I've seen some of Artemisia Gentileschi's paintings in museums so I enjoyed learning more about this talented artist. The biographical novel shows Artemisia as a person, an artist, and a feminist role model. 3.5 stars.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Suzanne

    I love love love this book. It had been sitting on my shelves for years before I read it, and though I could be sorry I waited so long, somehow I'm glad for the hidden treasure it became. I found the book very interesting and well written. I already knew about Artemisia from a movie I saw, but as usual, the book left a far bigger impression. The only thing that could improve this book, or at least the cheap Dutch edition I read, is a list of Italian words used and (color) prints of the paintings I love love love this book. It had been sitting on my shelves for years before I read it, and though I could be sorry I waited so long, somehow I'm glad for the hidden treasure it became. I found the book very interesting and well written. I already knew about Artemisia from a movie I saw, but as usual, the book left a far bigger impression. The only thing that could improve this book, or at least the cheap Dutch edition I read, is a list of Italian words used and (color) prints of the paintings described. (I looked them up on the internet now while reading) That said, I feel privileged that apparently my Dutch edition is the only edition I can find on here that has the painting that the writer hints at on the last page on its cover. When I finished the book and realised that I had just read about what was to become this painting, it felt very satisfying, as the book had come full circle somehow. Highly recommended!

  5. 4 out of 5

    Chrissie

    Finished: I feel like I was a bit harsh in all my previous criticism. However what I said IS what I felt at those particular points in the book. I am giving this 4 stars - the ending was superbly done. What can I say other than that I forgive all the previous faults that irritated me. Still, one can be almost proud to NOT be religious! The title is perfect. The Passion of Artemesia is the passion that moves an artist. Now at the end, I simply have deep respect for this woman, artist, mother and Finished: I feel like I was a bit harsh in all my previous criticism. However what I said IS what I felt at those particular points in the book. I am giving this 4 stars - the ending was superbly done. What can I say other than that I forgive all the previous faults that irritated me. Still, one can be almost proud to NOT be religious! The title is perfect. The Passion of Artemesia is the passion that moves an artist. Now at the end, I simply have deep respect for this woman, artist, mother and daughter. Through page 275: The lecturing has stopped, and I like the way the author is tying up the strings. I also really like how the relationship between Artemisia and her daughter Palmira is described by the author. I guess it is imagined, but it is a very true to life relationship. There is love and there is acceptance even of traits that are so very different between the mother and daughter. Through page 237: OK, maybe this is what is bothering me. First of all the paintings do not move me. Secondly, I don't like it when books analyzing art to tell you what you should be feeling, tell you why you should feel this or that or tell you what a particular paining MEANS. The analysis seems quite feasible, but I don't enjoy being fed this spoon by spoon. Through page 225: Nope I just do not like this. It is putting me to sleep. Through page 194: Religion played a vital role in people's lives. I have a very had time relating to this. Religious beliefs did not bother me in Chevalier's Girl with a Pearl Earring, but in this book it does. Religion influences the subject matter of Artemisia's paintings, and I end up feeling just sort of numb. Another thing that bothers me is that because Artemisia is so strong I have little sympathy for her. Think of Michelangelo's David, we love him b/c he is fighting a battle where his opponent is so much stronger than he is. This thought is not mine, but stated in the book. I agree! Knowing this, Vreeland should have realized herself that it is hard to side with Artemisia. She doesn't need my help - she is so strong herself! She consistently manages to do the right thing even when she is treated unfairly. She seems a bit too good to be true..... Through page 109: I am liking this more and more. It IS about the soul of artist too. "Inclinazione (a painting commissioned by Michelangelo Buonarroti the Younger) may have been beautiful. It may have looked real, but it was missing something. For me the pleasure had been visual, in creating shape and applying the color, and tactile, in smearing the thick creamy paint on my palette, but the pleasure was not of the mind. The painting did not have 'invenzioneé'. It did not tell a story. I had been paid for craft, not for art." Hmm, maybe this is how Artemisia felt, but this canvas was commissioned for a particular purpose, a particular place. Artists must sell their pieces and not all can be completely a result of the artist's own feelings and motivations and wishes. Furthermore, doesn't a good piece of art move the observer in many different ways. A masterpiece doesn't mean just that one thing, but will affect different people in different ways. Each will see a different story perhaps. What is important is that it moves us, NOT that it moves us along one set path. Just my views! And the book is about people and our human emotions of anger, jealousy, revenge and our inability to change. It is about the artist and the model, husband and wife, parents and children..... all of these both rewarding and conflicting relationships. You just have to stop and think about them in the context of how the story plays out. Through page 67; Artemisia is now in Florence, the city of artists! Vreeland's writing makes the city come alive with all its smells and sounds and views. I am a sucker for good descriptive writing: "In the afternoon two days later, the clouds broke apart and sunlight brushed with a light sienna the stone arches and crenelations of Porta Romana, the southern entrance to the city of Florence. Ocher buildings with red tiled roofs and shutters the color of cinnamon or basil lined the road......" "The street of the cheese shops, though pungent, wasn't so bad, and by the time we passed the spice shops, I was breathing normally again. Every shade of yellow ocher, sienna, orange, cinnamon, and dull green powders spilled out of large muslin bags onto the street. . The colors of my new city. In every piazza a sculpture, in every niche the patron saint of some guild." Palazzo Pitti, the Duomo of Santa Mariadel Fiore, the Brunelleschi Dome, the Arno and much, much more are described! Hmmm - this I like! Through page 56: Perhaps I shouldn't but it is impossible not to compare this historical fiction about an artist with Girl with a Pearl Earring which I just finished. Both are about artists, both occur in the mid 1600s, the latter in Holland and the one I am currently reading taking place in Italy. Their tone is so very different. There was a calmness in Chevalier's book while this book pulses with urgency. Maybe this is not surprising in that Vreeland's book begins with a rape trial and the last book was about a humble maid with artistic talents. It was her master, Vermeer, who was the acclaimed artist in Chevalier's novel! Chevalier's book seems to be more about character study and what makes an artist an artist while Vreeland's is more about betrayal, so far at least. How does one deal with betrayal? In Vreeland's book the characters act in a manner or with a determination that seems "modern". To me it seems a bit like a message is being given and that makes me uncomfortable. But hey it is a good story and maybe my initial worries are completely off track! Each book should be judged on its own merits. I am so happy to be home reading again!

  6. 5 out of 5

    Hilary G

    Ex Bookworm group review: It took me rather a long time to read this book. Despite the fact the life of a female painter in what was pretty much a man's world was a great subject, the book failed to engage me somehow. I felt unmoved by Artemisia's suffering in the same way she suspected her daughter Palmira was, and for the same reason, I suspect. It was too far removed from the world I know to have any real meaning for me. My progress through the book was a series of highs and lows. I liked the d Ex Bookworm group review: It took me rather a long time to read this book. Despite the fact the life of a female painter in what was pretty much a man's world was a great subject, the book failed to engage me somehow. I felt unmoved by Artemisia's suffering in the same way she suspected her daughter Palmira was, and for the same reason, I suspect. It was too far removed from the world I know to have any real meaning for me. My progress through the book was a series of highs and lows. I liked the descriptions of Florence and some of the great works of art to be found there. I was fascinated by Artemisia's thought processes when she was creating a new painting, and by the details about proportions, light and shade and the mixing of pigments (the colours had wonderful names), how she looked at things and tried to paint truth. I was immensely irritated by the Italian words scattered needlessly (and, on the whole, meaninglessly) throughout the book. In italics, too (my pet hate). I couldn't be bothered to look them up and find out what they meant, sometimes I guessed, sometimes I didn't care. But I didn't see the point of putting 'cassone' when trunk would do just as well (if I guessed right). Perhaps I shouldn't object to Italian words and Italics in a book about Italy, but I did. Artemisia was a bit too much of a victim for my liking, and often, she was a victim of herself. She wanted to be loved but she wasn't very loving. She was supposedly betrayed by her husband, but she was not exactly a bundle of warmth and love herself. She wanted everyone to accept her for what she was, but she didn't do that. She was determined Palmira would be a painter despite her having no interest in painting. I'm sure she felt betrayed by Palmira too, but she betrayed little understanding that her daughter might have different aspirations. In many senses, Artemisia was as wooden as Palmira's Bathsheba. Painting was her only passion and when she wasn't painting, she was not particularly interesting. But even painting didn't seem a source of joy to Artemisia, just an essential part of her being. She was rather lacking in joy overall, though there were some funny moments, they were unintentional, such as her rather carnal use of Michelangelo's paintbrush and her statement to Galileo that she would try to feel the earth move. To my own surprise I was moved by the ending of the book, which brought quite a lump to my throat. Looking back on what I had read I decided Artemisia was a very interesting person despite what I thought of her along the way.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Jeanette

    What a fabulous read. From the first I was enthralled and through out remained encompassed by Artemisia. Specifically the complete fight within herself between the want/need for a personal life and her over-whelming necessity to channel her art within painting. And the time period and associations for access to the finest and most innovative of her time on top of all that. It truly became a book I could not put down. Having read others of Susan Vreeland, I know how she can grab the depth of a cha What a fabulous read. From the first I was enthralled and through out remained encompassed by Artemisia. Specifically the complete fight within herself between the want/need for a personal life and her over-whelming necessity to channel her art within painting. And the time period and associations for access to the finest and most innovative of her time on top of all that. It truly became a book I could not put down. Having read others of Susan Vreeland, I know how she can grab the depth of a character and an era. And I will return to try others of hers now. But this one! Superb. This became a study of not only her painting onus, conceptions and biography- but much more in depth- the horrendous betrayal tale and if forgiveness or revenge triumphs in eventuality. That particular tale is seldom done as well as it was here. There are myriads of stories and personal tales of triumph, failure, opening of awareness to fact/ education or change in growth or travel- but very few that dare to jump the stockade of forgiving a vile and treacherous attack of duplicity. And especially from a blood family or marriage partner. This one does that to its plummets. Thank you, my GR friends, for this recommendation. Every aspect of this one was sublime. As bright as the Italian colors of this era. When she was going up the Thames and noted the bleached world in comparison, I knew exactly what she missed. That golden light, that marvelous contrast of Italia's afternoon. And the book also became a travelogue of all those marvelous cities and places of art innovation, seen through the eyes of the artists and philosophers of that era. Galileo in conflict and yet completely sure! Magnificent. I seem to be on a path to a line of books in a row that conceive as core examples of women wanting and achieving "non-feminine" roles or aspirations. This is one of the best of those. I can only imagine the courage it took in that court and under that torture. We may at other times have been tortured in less severe methods, but still the barricades of culture and acceptance to learning have existed. In this Artemisia was a champion, far beyond her artistic accomplishments and abilities.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Orsolya

    Personally, Artemisia is my favorite female artist. Enduring personal strife and showing the power of a woman, she is definitely a role model. Vreeland's novel provides a power insight into the life of the painter and yet smoothly and dramatically moves the story in an easy-to-read way. Powerful and yet entertaining. A must read! Personally, Artemisia is my favorite female artist. Enduring personal strife and showing the power of a woman, she is definitely a role model. Vreeland's novel provides a power insight into the life of the painter and yet smoothly and dramatically moves the story in an easy-to-read way. Powerful and yet entertaining. A must read!

  9. 4 out of 5

    Natasa

    I found this to be a nice easy read with characters that held my attention, and a story that was interesting enough to make me want to find out more about Artemisia and her life. I would have liked a more in-depth look at Artemisia and her husband, their relationship, and his relationship with his daughter. Although this was not a page-turner, it held my attention, and I cared about the people in the story. I enjoyed the descriptions and the interpretations of Artemisia’s paintings, Italy, and t I found this to be a nice easy read with characters that held my attention, and a story that was interesting enough to make me want to find out more about Artemisia and her life. I would have liked a more in-depth look at Artemisia and her husband, their relationship, and his relationship with his daughter. Although this was not a page-turner, it held my attention, and I cared about the people in the story. I enjoyed the descriptions and the interpretations of Artemisia’s paintings, Italy, and the art of the times.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Chris

    I felt like I was back in Italy viewing all the amazing art & architecture primarily in Rome & Florence. Lush descriptions that I was able to sink into while Vreeland unfolded the story of real life 17th C Italian Baroque artist Artemisia Gentileschi, the first female artist to be accepted into the Academy of Art in Florence. Her passion was her painting and in particular, heroines. Loved the vivid and detailed descriptions of her painting technique. It is also a novel of her overcoming the many I felt like I was back in Italy viewing all the amazing art & architecture primarily in Rome & Florence. Lush descriptions that I was able to sink into while Vreeland unfolded the story of real life 17th C Italian Baroque artist Artemisia Gentileschi, the first female artist to be accepted into the Academy of Art in Florence. Her passion was her painting and in particular, heroines. Loved the vivid and detailed descriptions of her painting technique. It is also a novel of her overcoming the many obstacles in her way as she yearns for the life of a painter and of course relationships, most importantly between she & her father, her husband, her daughter, her friends Graziela ( a nun) and Galileo. Happiness and despondency, Love and loss, estrangement and forgiveness, bitterness and acceptance...the cycle of life and relationships.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Linda P.

    I really enjoyed every single page of this book. The author was able to catch my whole attention in a way I was not expecting. I could feel all Artemisia's emotions, I could smell the odours of the street of Florence looking at the Arno, I could hear the noise in Neapel.. I could admire each beautiful paintings of this brave female artist, who was in that century definitely a pioneer, without having seen them before! I really enjoyed every single page of this book. The author was able to catch my whole attention in a way I was not expecting. I could feel all Artemisia's emotions, I could smell the odours of the street of Florence looking at the Arno, I could hear the noise in Neapel.. I could admire each beautiful paintings of this brave female artist, who was in that century definitely a pioneer, without having seen them before!

  12. 4 out of 5

    Laura

    This book is based on the true story of Artemisia Gentileschi, a woman ahead of her time since her passion for painting overcame all the turbulences of her private life. Her friendship with Galileo Galilei was remarkable in both ways. She was the first woman to be accepted by the Academia .

  13. 5 out of 5

    Deb (Readerbuzz) Nance

    One of our book club members was a personal friend of Susan Vreeland, and it was he who brought this author to the attention of our club. Many of us found we enjoyed Vreeland's approach to historical fiction, using extensive research, and focusing on stories of people from the world of art. The Passion of Artemisia is the story of Artemisia Gentileschi, one of the few female painters of the post-Renaissance world to become well-known in her own time. The story begins with the scandalous public tr One of our book club members was a personal friend of Susan Vreeland, and it was he who brought this author to the attention of our club. Many of us found we enjoyed Vreeland's approach to historical fiction, using extensive research, and focusing on stories of people from the world of art. The Passion of Artemisia is the story of Artemisia Gentileschi, one of the few female painters of the post-Renaissance world to become well-known in her own time. The story begins with the scandalous public trial of a man Artemisia's father accused of raping his daughter, and continues through Artemisia's unconventional life. The story's strength is the details of daily life, the details of Italian cities, the details of art that Vreeland shares in the story. A couple of my favorite quotes from the story: "We've been lucky," I (Artemisia) said (to her father, also an artist). "We've been able to live by what we love. And to live painting, as we have, wherever we have, is to live passion and imagination and connection and adoration, all the best in life---to be more alive than the rest." "We prepare ourselves for death by treasuring such moments when we feel that even the least of us has been necessary for the full expression of God."

  14. 4 out of 5

    Duane

    For you art lovers who also like historical fiction, this one's for you. Susan Vreeland is a very good writer of historical fiction, although I don't always like her subject matter, I did in this one. Along the line of Tracy Chevalier's Girl With a Pearl Earring. For you art lovers who also like historical fiction, this one's for you. Susan Vreeland is a very good writer of historical fiction, although I don't always like her subject matter, I did in this one. Along the line of Tracy Chevalier's Girl With a Pearl Earring.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Katherine

    ”The two things I wanted most in life- painting and love- and one had killed any chance at the other. Why was life so perverse that it couldn’t or wouldn’t give me one shred of good without an equal amount of bad?” Artemisia Gentileschi is seventeen years old and on trial for accusing her father’s friend of rape. Publicly humiliated, shamed and basically abandoned by her father (a famous artist), her life is basically ruined. ”’In time, Artemisia, it won’t matter.’ ‘When a woman’s name is al ”The two things I wanted most in life- painting and love- and one had killed any chance at the other. Why was life so perverse that it couldn’t or wouldn’t give me one shred of good without an equal amount of bad?” Artemisia Gentileschi is seventeen years old and on trial for accusing her father’s friend of rape. Publicly humiliated, shamed and basically abandoned by her father (a famous artist), her life is basically ruined. ”’In time, Artemisia, it won’t matter.’ ‘When a woman’s name is all she has, it matters.’” Because of this, her father arranges a marriage to another artist in the hopes that his daughter’s reputation will be restored. However, while Artemisia follows his orders, there’s one thing that rules over her life: her desire to paint, and to be the best painter that there is. Over the years she accomplishes those goals, but not without blood, sweat, tears, and the ever-present sexism. And yet she still manages to succeed and is now considered one of the most widely regarded and respected artists of her era. Susan Vreeland’s loose retelling of Artemisia’s life truly shows how great of a woman she was, while at the same time bringing to life the rich world of Renaissance Italy and the powerful themes of art, family, feminism. Not only was Artemisia the first truly recognizable woman painter her era, she was a badass one at that. At least in the book she was. Her life motto was probably something along the lines of “IDGAF”, and “I do what I want”. She gave absolutely zero fucks about what people thought, or the snide and sniveling remarks her husband and peers made. ”What a novelty, a wife who painted. How curious, How droll. She even thought the academy would want her. Foolish woman.” She was going to paint, and she was going to do it no matter what. Unfortunately for her, this attitude doesn’t exactly lend itself to great parenting skills. She cares for a loves her daughter Palmiera deeply, but her work is the most important thing in her life. She even admits as much to her father. ”’I am my father’s daughter.’ ‘How’s that?’ ‘We have both chosen art over our daughters,’ I said softly. ‘Only time will tell whether it’s been worth the price.’” She truly had the best intentions for Palmiera, but in the end her desire to be a painter would occasionally trump her desire to give her daughter a better life. The author does a wonderful job of capturing Artemisia’s inner struggles to be a wonderful painter to her outward expectations others have placed on her to be a dutiful wife and mother. But what Susan Vreeland managed to do so wonderfully was creating a backstory (whether it be real or entirely fictional), that explains the kinds of art that she did. The grudge that she held against her father for what he put her through was the source of her paintings of strong, empowered women, which was a huge bonus point in my book. I will admit that some of the artistic talk went completely over my head, since I’m not an artist whatsoever. Looking at pretty paintings and stuff is nice, and I could probably name well-known paintings off the top of my head. But ask me one question about artistic terms and I become completely lost. I also didn’t really quite get the intertwining of Artemisia and Galileo, since one didn’t really have anything to do with the other. This was my first Susan Vreeland book, but it certainly won’t be my last. Her rich characterization and beautiful reimagining of life back in Renaissance Italy captures the imagination, and let the reader glimpse into the life of an extraordinary woman that we probably should all know about, but don’t. Highly recommended!

  16. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca

    I first read one of Vreeland's books when I was in middle school (Girl in Hyacinth Blue), and I remember enjoying it very much. I bought this book shortly thereafter, and then approximately 15 years went by, and I finally got around to reading it. I would have loved this book in middle or high school, but reading it now, at approximately 27, the writing and characterization were a bit too simplistic. One thing Vreeland does do well in this book is get inside the mind of the main character, a fema I first read one of Vreeland's books when I was in middle school (Girl in Hyacinth Blue), and I remember enjoying it very much. I bought this book shortly thereafter, and then approximately 15 years went by, and I finally got around to reading it. I would have loved this book in middle or high school, but reading it now, at approximately 27, the writing and characterization were a bit too simplistic. One thing Vreeland does do well in this book is get inside the mind of the main character, a female painter in Baroque Italy named Artemisia. The descriptions of her paintings and her creative process all seem very realistic and well thought-out, but most of the action and drama are watered down for a teenage audience (even though I'm pretty sure this is intended as a novel for adults). Artemisia's relationship with Galileo was also a bit frustrating -- her version of spirituality (at least as Vreeland portrayed it) was simpering and cowardly, the kind of belief system that excuses ignorance by saying "Maybe there are some things we're not meant to know." That kind of sanctimonious, patronizing religion shows up a couple of times in the book and mars a character that I would otherwise find pretty likable. Vreeland's writing is nothing special -- not particularly artistic or out-of-the-ordinary, just workaday language that gets the job done. Still, there is a story arc and the book was at least interesting enough for me to finish it.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Natalie (CuriousReader)

    While The Passion of Artemisia is hardly a perfect novel, it is a thoroughly engaging fictionalized account of the legendary Roman-born Artemisia Gentileschi - painter extraordinaire living and working during the 17th century. The book begins with a rape trial, where Artemisia pursues justice for the suffering caused by one of her father's trusted friends and her mentor. She who has already been hurt from the violent event itself is further shamed by the societal responses of her trial - calling While The Passion of Artemisia is hardly a perfect novel, it is a thoroughly engaging fictionalized account of the legendary Roman-born Artemisia Gentileschi - painter extraordinaire living and working during the 17th century. The book begins with a rape trial, where Artemisia pursues justice for the suffering caused by one of her father's trusted friends and her mentor. She who has already been hurt from the violent event itself is further shamed by the societal responses of her trial - calling her a whore, acquitting her rapist from guilt and making her life in Rome impossible. Her father decides to 'solve' the situation by finding her a man to wed and move to Florence, to start a new life. She yearns to paint - for a living, to make great art, to be recognised for her work. This desire is the driving force in her life and will repeatedly force her to make important decisions, often resulting in sacrifices she long mourns for. Through Vreeland's imagining, we see Artemisia moving from one great Italian city to the next - going wherever her art will allow her to prosper, continuing to create while trying at the same time to keep her marriage alive, raising a daughter on her own, and continuously seeking within her the ability to forget about those who have wronged her and let go of resentment but more importantly, to find a place in her heart to forgive her father for the part he played in the event and its judicial process. Artemisia comes alive in Vreeland's words; through the internal struggle of an artist and trying to love other people - finding a balance between the passion of one's life and the effort required to sustain every relationship we have with other people, to receive recognition for her skill and talent, for finding peace with herself and the string of decisions made that cannot be undone. Through this book, Rome, Florence, Genova, and Venice comes to life - the colors of the cities, the smells, its people; equally there is a compelling heroine at the core of the book, whose real life I know feel thirsty to learn more of. For lovers of historical fiction centered around real historical figures and artists, this is a wonderful example of its kind and unique for the subject it imagines.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Michael

    210624: when i took art history at u i really did not enjoy it, now i see it everywhere, love it everywhere, am endlessly fascinated by art. this is not my favourite era, favourite style, and some of the interest is biographical, but after all the theory, the critiques, the history- it is the art that matters and her work is powerful. will remember the first time i saw her 'judith slaying Holofernes' and the leering old men in 'Sussana at the bath'. do not know if if has bothered others but the 210624: when i took art history at u i really did not enjoy it, now i see it everywhere, love it everywhere, am endlessly fascinated by art. this is not my favourite era, favourite style, and some of the interest is biographical, but after all the theory, the critiques, the history- it is the art that matters and her work is powerful. will remember the first time i saw her 'judith slaying Holofernes' and the leering old men in 'Sussana at the bath'. do not know if if has bothered others but the famous 'rape of sabines'(not hers but referred to) always bothered me because... it always looked too much 'celebration'... there is no ambiguity in this work: i do not know how plausible her enlightened awareness of personal value, of rightness against those who would deny her rape, or later call her whore, but it certainly makes me want to look at her work again. this is historical fiction. though how 'historical' i do not know, for the struggles of being a woman artist and mother do not seem to have diminished in the centuries. there is some contrast between faith in religion and the new scientific world heralded by her friend galileo. and how the world may not be ready for her art or his science... this is historical fiction, this mix of fact recalled and fiction invented, and we are not somehow beyond prejudices the assaulted must face. this is concise, readable, so in one way this is fast, fluid reading on art history- particularly technical details of just how this or that work is made- and in another way dismaying that it is, always, again, the woman who is expected to forgive. after she works out her pain through years, decades, and finally her memorable paintings that last for all time...

  19. 5 out of 5

    Marialyce (absltmom, yaya)

    This was a wonderful, beautifully told tale of an artist named Artemesia who was portrayed as a woman painter in the seventeenth century. The book delves into the difficulties of being a woman during those times, especially a woman who was raped and one who was an artist. Artemisia had a most tenuous relationship with her father, also an artist, with her husband, a philanderer and an unfaithful man, and her daughter who oftentimes bore the brunt of the lack of her mother's love because her mothe This was a wonderful, beautifully told tale of an artist named Artemesia who was portrayed as a woman painter in the seventeenth century. The book delves into the difficulties of being a woman during those times, especially a woman who was raped and one who was an artist. Artemisia had a most tenuous relationship with her father, also an artist, with her husband, a philanderer and an unfaithful man, and her daughter who oftentimes bore the brunt of the lack of her mother's love because her mother devoted her very being to her art. It was sad to read of the denials Artemisia suffered because within her very fiber lived an artist. She could never deny that part of her and ultimately it consumed her. Her happiness, her life, her very being was a living breathing tableau of painting, of seeing art in the smallest of objects, and thoroughly exploring her craft. The life of a true artist is indeed a very hard one to live and Artemisia lived that life to the fullest.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Mr Puddy

    I absolutely love the book. The Passion of Artemisia ' is real page-turner but I could't ignore the fact of her childhood trauma. Artemisia as a teen who was ruined by rape and public humiliation. She was abandoned by her own father. Her childhood was abused and neglect. In most case of psychology today, most of them tend to become depressed, withdraw, develop suicidal or violent behavior. Many are still struggling even they become adults. After bad things happen to her, I can see her personal d I absolutely love the book. The Passion of Artemisia ' is real page-turner but I could't ignore the fact of her childhood trauma. Artemisia as a teen who was ruined by rape and public humiliation. She was abandoned by her own father. Her childhood was abused and neglect. In most case of psychology today, most of them tend to become depressed, withdraw, develop suicidal or violent behavior. Many are still struggling even they become adults. After bad things happen to her, I can see her personal damages in her paintings but I couldn't see any damages in Artemisia of Susan Vreeland. She seems to continue her life as normal woman who has ambitions. Her damages had revealed at the end of the book so her character didn't get to develop to be depth, to be more complex. I'm not regret to read the book, I just expected more from main character. I still love the book even if it was not perfect.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Marie

    A lovely read about an incredible woman.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Sarah Alexander

    goin thru some shit so i sobbed multiple times during the last ~50 pages

  23. 4 out of 5

    Sherri Silvera

    This was a DNF for me. I could not force myself to finish even though I was half way through and it got such good reviews. I found it to be tedious.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Jessie (Ageless Pages Reviews)

    Histfic covering the life of Artemisia Gentileschi from the infamous rape trial of Agostino to her father’s death. Sadly a only surface-level rendition of her life. There is no real depth to this version of her story and Vreeland's Artemisia is far more passive than she ought to be for a woman who did all she did. Histfic covering the life of Artemisia Gentileschi from the infamous rape trial of Agostino to her father’s death. Sadly a only surface-level rendition of her life. There is no real depth to this version of her story and Vreeland's Artemisia is far more passive than she ought to be for a woman who did all she did.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Lisa James

    This was a really eye opening book. It hooks you from the beginning, I mean starting out with a rape trial is one hell of a way to grab a reader's attention. Artemisia, a painter's daughter, inherited her father's talent, but women were really not appreciated as artists in their own right back in the time period this is set in. She survives the rape trial, only to be unceremoniously married off to another painter who is willing to take her even though she is considered to be damaged goods. Her h This was a really eye opening book. It hooks you from the beginning, I mean starting out with a rape trial is one hell of a way to grab a reader's attention. Artemisia, a painter's daughter, inherited her father's talent, but women were really not appreciated as artists in their own right back in the time period this is set in. She survives the rape trial, only to be unceremoniously married off to another painter who is willing to take her even though she is considered to be damaged goods. Her husband is a good man though, and realizes her talent when he sees the canvases she shows them on the long carriage ride from her home city to his. Artemisia IS a real person, you can look her up, I did, & actually see the paintings of hers that survived.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Darci

    This book was such an interesting read, especially considering the events are pretty historically accurate, as far as I can tell (which isn't too far, but still...). Aspects that make me lean toward 5 stars: - the story line! Such a fascinating story! This makes you turn each page with relish! - the characters... so many flawed but interesting people! - the history, although it made me so GLAD I'm not living in the 1600s Italy. Aspects that back off this review to 4 stars: - the somewhat choppiness of This book was such an interesting read, especially considering the events are pretty historically accurate, as far as I can tell (which isn't too far, but still...). Aspects that make me lean toward 5 stars: - the story line! Such a fascinating story! This makes you turn each page with relish! - the characters... so many flawed but interesting people! - the history, although it made me so GLAD I'm not living in the 1600s Italy. Aspects that back off this review to 4 stars: - the somewhat choppiness of the characters' relationships with others. There are particular friendships (such as the one with Galileo) that seem relatively inappropriate for the time. (Minor spoiler: they went on a walk alone in the dark at a party to look at stars. Hmm. At a time when women went around veiled, I woudl have thought that to be a bit extraordinary.) And what finally tipped the scale to 3 stars: The way that Vreeland writes, this story is CLEARLY coming from a 21st century reality. When Artemesia is denied certain things (a place to live, or membership in certain art circles) due to her gender, she seems flabbergasted. It would be absolutely appropriate in 2008 for a person to feel like that, but in 1610, I wouldn't think gender inequality would stun a person as she was stunned. It just felt a little stilted and a bit, well, created. Keeping in mind that this is a world in which women were so looked down on that a rape was only an issue if the woman had been a virgin, it seems odd that she would have been surprised by the discrimination that she faced. The other 3-star point I'd make on this one is the representation of Artemesia and her father. (MAJOR SPOILER ALERT HERE, I THINK SO QUIT READING NOW!!!!!!!!!!) I hated how he only brought charges against the rapist because (a) Artemesia would be harder to marry off since she was "deflowered" (I hate that term) and (b) because he wanted a painting back that the rapist (a co-painter with him) had stolen. Artemesia (who as I've stated is rather forwrad-thinking and strong willed in many ways, never directly addresses her anger and disgust at her fathers' breaking her trust and eventually working with her rapist again. I HATED the ending of this book, I felt like it tried to tie up loose ends in the perfect, symmetrical bow. It sort of felt like Vreeland either got tired of writing this one, was behind on a deadline or just quit jotted down an ending because she really wanted out of the story. Completely unsatisfying final 5 pages, but prior to that, a beautiful read, an interesting story, and a fun page-turner.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Krystl Louwagie

    It's a high 3 stars because it was written well, and I have to love Artemisia, always have. However, the book focuses a lot on things I'm not interested in, such as marriage and kids and cheating husbands and and forgiveness. I guess maybe I'm still too young and an angry person, but...I think forgiveness is over-rated. It was a nice look into what might've been Artemisia's life, but I don't have any idea why this is supposed to be a YA novel, other than maybe it's not long and isn't super in dep It's a high 3 stars because it was written well, and I have to love Artemisia, always have. However, the book focuses a lot on things I'm not interested in, such as marriage and kids and cheating husbands and and forgiveness. I guess maybe I'm still too young and an angry person, but...I think forgiveness is over-rated. It was a nice look into what might've been Artemisia's life, but I don't have any idea why this is supposed to be a YA novel, other than maybe it's not long and isn't super in depth, but most of the book focuses on things that a current young adult aren't interested in. It also skips over one of the most important things in her life; her repeated rape by her teacher and father's painting partner-it starts during her trial of accusing the man, but I feel like it was skipped over because the author wasn't sure how to handle it. It was a lot of fun to look through her paintings online after I read the book and place where they were. I do think it's sad that as she got older, her pieces got less and less original and striking and just completely conventional, simply accepting how men painted women instead of how she used to paint women. She stopped painting nudes with strong emotion and started making women coy, shy, and weak instead of strong. Sigh. Oh, a quote I liked from the book, even though I'm not sure if it was first written somewhere else, "To love is to stand willingly in the noose of illusion, adoring someone while you wait to choke." I'd put it as a facebook update, but then everyone would think I'm overly-depressed and crap.

  28. 4 out of 5

    chcubic

    I picked this book up after seeing Artemisia Gentilenschi's painting Judith Slaying Holofernes and getting stunned by its uncompromising power and emotion. Unfortunately, this is not a book exploring Artemisia's art and life in the light of historical investigation, instead, this is an exploitation of historical figures to fit them into modern political correctness and ideology, or, in the words of art historian Roger Kimball, the rape of the masters. Written in first-person narrative, Artemisia I picked this book up after seeing Artemisia Gentilenschi's painting Judith Slaying Holofernes and getting stunned by its uncompromising power and emotion. Unfortunately, this is not a book exploring Artemisia's art and life in the light of historical investigation, instead, this is an exploitation of historical figures to fit them into modern political correctness and ideology, or, in the words of art historian Roger Kimball, the rape of the masters. Written in first-person narrative, Artemisia is depicted as such a simplistic puppet whose every move and thought must pass a sieve of feminism first. What's worse, it's not true feminism that fights for the weak and pursues equality (like those early feminists in 1970s) but whiny complaints full of victimhood. Everyone should care her feelings, but she doesn't need to reciprocate to understand difficulties and struggles in other people because she is unique as THE female painter. I understand this is a "fiction" and thus endowed with a certain level of artistic license, but it's still quite annoying to read such kind of distortion of historical figures.

  29. 4 out of 5

    melydia

    A fictionalized look at the life of Artemisia Gentileschi, an Italian Baroque painter in the 17th century. I'd never heard of her before this, and I found looking up her paintings enhanced my enjoyment of the book. The story begins during the latter part of the trial of her rapist, and continues through her times in Florence, Genoa, Rome, Naples, and London. It's interesting how the rape trial was all but skipped, seeming to imply that we all know that story already, even though it shaped the co A fictionalized look at the life of Artemisia Gentileschi, an Italian Baroque painter in the 17th century. I'd never heard of her before this, and I found looking up her paintings enhanced my enjoyment of the book. The story begins during the latter part of the trial of her rapist, and continues through her times in Florence, Genoa, Rome, Naples, and London. It's interesting how the rape trial was all but skipped, seeming to imply that we all know that story already, even though it shaped the course of her life for the next several years. I have mixed feelings about this book. I enjoyed it while I was reading it, but taken as a whole I'm a little disappointed. Huge chunks of time are glossed over, few of the characters are given any personality or physical description, and the main plot arc - Artemisia's relationship with her father - feels like it was shoehorned in. Despite all that, I'm still glad I read it. Reading about painted is often inspiring, and I've now been introduced to another talented artist.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Dree

    I enjoyed this book more than I expected to--I picked it up at a used book sale simply because Vreeland's Girl in Hyacinth Blue is one of my favorite books. But what Girl has is clearly inimitable. The painting s the main character, the hops through time. It's an unusual little book, and it is wonderful. Artemesia is more traditional historical fiction. It is certainly readable and interesting, and I had never heard of Artemesia Gentileschi before picking up this book. But historical fiction that I enjoyed this book more than I expected to--I picked it up at a used book sale simply because Vreeland's Girl in Hyacinth Blue is one of my favorite books. But what Girl has is clearly inimitable. The painting s the main character, the hops through time. It's an unusual little book, and it is wonderful. Artemesia is more traditional historical fiction. It is certainly readable and interesting, and I had never heard of Artemesia Gentileschi before picking up this book. But historical fiction that distorts the little that is known to make for a better story just bugs me. In this case, Vreeland readily admits (in the book club section at the back)to leaving out her brothers and her sons. So much of this story is wrapped around her being an only child, and raising an only child, and both being daughters. But that's not true. So why take a real person to write about, if the few bits of knowledge are distorted?

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