Thursday, November 12, 2015

The Young Woman and the Sea

Artemisia Gentileschi was celebrated as a great artist (picturae miraculum invidendum facilius quam imitandum) during her lifetime; now she has been turned into a forerunner of feminism, but it would be worth rediscovering her as an artist and have a look at her works. The painting above, The Triumph of Galatea, made in 1645-50 in collaboration with Bernardo Cavallino, may not be her most significant work but it is interesting as a late example of Renaissance approach to imagery. The general structure recalls Raphael's Galatea, but more specifically, the nymph's posture resembles that of Michelangelo's Jonah in the Sistine Chapel. With a major difference though: Jonah expresses hesitation while Galatea looks inspired and self-confident.
Very "core-Reinassance-like," so quite unlike most of Artemisia's Baroque paintings, are some funny details like the nymph's vehicle, probably a spider-crab's shell, with "spurts" of red coral that hint at its origin from Medusa's blood. But the wittiest novelty is the Triton playing a transverse flute.