Artemisia Gentileschi

Barbara Zucchi

This shoe sculpure is part of a series of 20 sculptures of shoes dedicated to the most relevant women in history, literature, cinema and comics. This project has been commissioned by Superstudio Milan and ANCI, and chosen as opening event for the MICAM 2006. Artemisia Gentileschi
Born in Rome in 1593, Artemisia was the daughter of the well renowned painter Orazio. In 1609 her father was working on a project together with colleague and friend Agostino Tassi, master of perspective. Agostino, violent man with a troubled past, got infatuated by Artemisia and – according to the proceedings of the trial – in consequence of the resistance of the girl, he raped her. We ignored what the truth is on the brink of a real passion between the two artists and the revenge of his daughter’s honour by Orazio. The trial started on May, 1612 to finish five months later, with a light condemned for Tassi. After suffering the mortification of several public gynaecological examinations, Artemisia was submitted to the torture of the thumb’s smashing to reveal what the truth was; nevertheless Artemisia wouldn’t take back her testimony (she claimed not to have suffered any violence) she has never believed. As woman –artist, her aggressive style differs from the others women artists as Sofonisba Anguissola, Lavinia Fontana or Elisabetta Sirani, whose embodied more conservatory models; her excellence will make her overtake her own father in skill. One of her well known paintings is the portrait of the Roman Lucrezia, the woman who killed herself after her husband repudiated her due to the shame of rape. Unlike the portraits represented of the same subject, the Artemisia’s Lucrezia is caught brandishing a knife. Her angry look, turned to the sky and her proud pose could make us believe that she wouldn’t commit suicide; it is a symbol of strength and hope, showing an emancipation that seems to anticipate times to come. Her sandal is very simple and revised the torture and mortification endured; a red thread holds her toes and two brushes support her.


Courtesy of Daniele Fontana at Whitenoisephotography 2007.

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