Power of Women

The Power of Women is a topic of Western art that inverted traditional gender roles. Most male painters saw this as comedy, but Artemisia Gentileschi turned it on its head and painted “courageous, rebellious, and powerful” women.

Gentileschi's Judith Beheading Holofernes
Artemisia Gentileschi [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
The term “Power of Women” came from the German Weibermacht, and first gained currency in the 16th century. It referred to pictures of women dominating men: witches, wives, and biblical figures like Judith, Delilah, and Salome.

Artemisia Gentileschi was a prominent Italian Renaissance artist, one of the few women in that boy’s club. She was the first female member of the Florentine Academy of Fine Arts (Michelangelo and Vasari were two other notable members) and had a large international client base, thanks to her expert use of colour and composition.

She has a fascinating biography, but to be honest some female artists get overshadowed by their biography (c.f. Sylvia Plath). I’d rather just appreciate her genuine skill and talent as an artist.


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