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Judith Beheading Holofernes

Artemisia Gentileschi, c. 1614–1620
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Italian Baroque artist Artemisia Gentileschi is known for being one of the first painters to earn the professional title of “female artist.” She was one of the most notable followers of Caravaggio, as is evident by her work—dark, vengeful, triumphant, and, at times, horrific. (This is most apparent in possibly her most famous work, Judith Beheading Holofernes.) Many biographers trace the theme of revenge back to her rape, by fellow artist (and friend of her father) Agostino Tassi, and the much publicized trial that followed. She was a trailblazer for women artists and predated feminist art centuries before the term came into existence. As famed Italian critic Roberto Longhi noted, “There are about fifty-seven works by Artemisia Gentileschi and 94% (forty-nine works) feature women as protagonists or equal to men.”

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