Jump to ratings and reviews
Rate this book

The Passion of Artemisia

Rate this book
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.

315 pages, Paperback

First published November 8, 2001

Loading interface...
Loading interface...

About the author

Susan Vreeland

14 books1,034 followers
Susan Vreeland was an internationally renowned best-selling author and four-time winner of the Theodor Geisel Award for Fiction, the San Diego Book Award’s highest honor. She wrote historical fiction on art-related themes, and her books have been translated into 26 languages.

Ratings & Reviews

What do you think?
Rate this book

Friends & Following

Create a free account to discover what your friends think of this book!

Community Reviews

5 stars
5,466 (29%)
4 stars
7,169 (38%)
3 stars
4,535 (24%)
2 stars
937 (5%)
1 star
322 (1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,040 reviews
Profile Image for B the BookAddict.
300 reviews651 followers
July 25, 2018
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.

 photo Judith_Beheading_Holofernes_zpsbc4e68ad.jpg

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:

 photo cleopatra-artemisia_zps03671ac6.jpg

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★
Profile Image for Candi.
598 reviews4,534 followers
March 3, 2017
"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
Profile Image for Connie G.
1,646 reviews434 followers
August 28, 2020
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.
Profile Image for Dagio_maya .
886 reviews251 followers
October 31, 2020
Vado contro corrente e dico che per me questo romanzo è stato una d e l u s i o n e.
Vero che l’autrice Susan Vreeland ha messo le mani avanti con una nota di apertura che dice:

” Un romanzo storico o che riguardi un personaggio storico è e deve essere un'opera dell'immaginazione, fedele al tempo e al personaggio, certo, ma fedele ai fatti solo nella misura in cui i fatti possano fornire un intreccio credibile.”

Grazie tante ma questo ce lo avevo già spiegato il Manzoni!

Artemisia Gentileschi è stata una donna rivoluzionaria che ha lasciato all’umanità un grande patrimonio artistico.
Non è certo l’alterazione della sua biografia che mi ha infastidito ma -nell’intento di dimostrare che la Gentileschi tra l’amore e l’arte abbia scelto quest’ultima – ha scritto pagine che sanno di YA concentrandosi molto sul suo sacrificio in nome della pittura (falso perché se il marito era freddo ebbe di sicuro un amante).

La passione di Artemisia è, innanzitutto, nella rinuncia; e qui scatta il secondo elemento che non ho gradito: per quanto la Gentileschi sia stata innovativa, la Vreelend la riveste di caratteri che sono esageratamente fuori fuoco non appartenendo all’epoca e al contesto.
Questa idea, ad esempio, della donna che deve scegliere tra professione e famiglia appartiene a dibattiti e riflessioni impensabili nel ‘600 e vabbè il “vero poetico” ma io l’ho trovata una stonatura. Ci sono poi tutta una serie di riflessioni sulla condizione femminile che ho trovato troppo inverosimili in un'epoca in cui le donne non avevano discorsi condivisi e coscienti anche per l’ombra minacciosa dell’Inquisizione.
La Vreeland sicuramente aveva non solo studiato bene le tele ma si sente che le ha amate.
La descrizione dei quadri è attenta e coglie significati e particolari importanti.
Sicuramente riesce bene a tratteggiare la caparbietà di questa donna che s’impone in un ambiente solitamente precluso alle donne.

Con me, tuttavia, questo romanzo non ha funzionato.
Ho trovato l’intreccio narrativo troppo artificioso e forse più adatto ad un pubblico americano

-Mi hanno detto che c’è un’altra Artemisia che merita -
Profile Image for Suzanne.
328 reviews23 followers
August 1, 2022
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!
Profile Image for lise.charmel.
353 reviews148 followers
October 28, 2020
Tre stelle abbastanza stiracchiate.
Nonostante l'autrice lo specifichi all'inizio del romanzo come scelta narrativa consapevole, ho trovato i personaggi assurdamente contemporanei per l'ambientazione (che è la prima metà del Seicento).
Artemisia non fa che cianciare di matrimoni d'amore e del fatto che lei non si è sposata per amore, quando in realtà mi piacerebbe sapere chi si sposasse per amore a quei tempi.
D'altra parte forse lei aveva in mente un pubblico americano che non avrebbe avuto difficoltà a identificarsi con un personaggio così fuori dal tempo in cui è nato perché forse noi italiani certi contesti culturali li assorbiamo naturalmente, mentre loro no.
Tuttavia le descrizioni dei colori e dei luoghi sono magnifiche e in particolare ho molto apprezzato le interessanti interpretazioni psicologiche dietro i dipinti della Gentileschi, che mi hanno fatto avvicinare a questa pittrice prolifica e talentuosa.
Per un maggiore approfondimentto credo che leggerò anche la biografia della Lapierre.
Profile Image for Simona.
935 reviews206 followers
August 20, 2013
Se è vero che da ogni libro impariamo posso dire di aver imparato a conoscere meglio questa donna e questa pittrice che risponde al nome di Artemisia Gentileschi, che fino a poco fa ignoravo.
I miei occhi sono ancora pregni di amore, di fascino, di bellezza, di arte, di sublime di fronte a una donna, una pittrice come Artemisia che non si è mai arresa, anche quando le circostanze giocavano a suo sfavore.
Una pittrice, una donna che, in un mondo ostile alle donne (siamo nel 1612), ha continuato, nonostante tutto, a credere in sé stessa, nei suoi sogni, nella sua vita e nel suo amore per l'arte.
Profile Image for Jeanette.
3,168 reviews541 followers
January 22, 2016
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.
Profile Image for Hilary G.
326 reviews12 followers
December 11, 2012
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.
Profile Image for Roberta.
36 reviews3 followers
December 16, 2022
Centuries ahead of her time, Artemisia Gentileschi was one of the first and only female artists to achieve success in the 17th century. With famed Tuscan painter Orazio Gentileschi as her father, she was exposed to art at a very young age. She became known for her accomplished use of chiaroscuro and for placing women and their stories at the center of all her works.

I am delighted to have stumbled upon this book a few days ago. Not only it was a pleasant read but I also learnt much more about this sensational woman. The author recounts her life emphasising not only her artist skills, but also her human aspect.

Through Artemisia's eyes, I walked down the streets of Rome, Florence, Genoa and Naples and I got to know the most prestigious artists and families of the time. I ‘witnessed’ the creation of many of her masterpieces, my personal favourite being “Judith and Her Maidservant with the Head of Holofernes”.

At times, the story is a little too fictionalised, therefore I recommend having a look at her biography before or after reading the novel. Neverthless, this is one of my favourite books.
Profile Image for Chrissie.
2,651 reviews1,485 followers
August 18, 2014
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!
Profile Image for Michael.
Author 2 books332 followers
November 16, 2021
if you like this review, i now have website: www.michaelkamakana.com

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...

Profile Image for piperitapitta.
938 reviews315 followers
October 30, 2020
Il confronto con il libro di Alexandra Lapierre (naturalmente sempre su Artemisia Gentileschi) è impietoso: questo è solo un romanzetto che ha soddisfatto ben poche delle curiosità che avevo sulla vita di questa pittrice.
Da leggere senza alcuna pretesa, solo per avvicinarsi al periodo e all'artista, poi passare alla Lapierre :-)
Profile Image for Francesca Mascari.
73 reviews8 followers
April 28, 2017
Questo romanzo mi è stato regalato da un'amica (grazie Lu), altrimenti chissà se l'avrei mai letto o se mai avrebbe attirato la mia attenzione? Devo ammettere che l'arte non era la mia materia preferita a scuola, e che la mia coscienza non arriva nemmeno ad livello sufficiente da avermi fatto riconoscere il nome di Artemisia Gentileschi.
Perché leggere un romanzo sulla sua vita allora? A parte il fatto che si trattava di un regalo, leggendo la trama dalla quarta di copertina (si può dire così anche di un ebook?) ho provato subito un certo interesse...
Ed infatti, da subito, la Vreeland trova il modo per tenere il lettore incollato alle pagine. Nonostante la scrittura in prima persona, che sempre mi fa storcere il naso, tutta la narrazione scorre leggera, toccante, interessante.
Non so quanto l'Artemisia Gentileschi della Vreeland somigli a quella reale, forse è un po' troppo moderna per essere una donna vissuta nel seicento? Che importa! Non importa perché quello che conta è ciò che l'autrice vuole raccontare, la passione per l'arte, la nostra gloriosa arte italiana che viene progressivamente ricordata! Tutto ciò mi ha appassionata moltissimo. Ho letto il romanzo facendo continue ricerche su Google...osservando le immagini dei quadri citati, seguendo le parole con cui la Vreeland riusciva a ridipingerli. È stata un'esperienza davvero piacevole e quindi la mia conclusione è: se la Vreeland è riuscita a farmi piacere una materia che credevo di non amare, cosa può riuscire a fare con altro? Cercherò di scoprirlo...
Profile Image for Natasa.
1,163 reviews
April 3, 2019
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.
Profile Image for Orsolya.
600 reviews287 followers
February 12, 2015
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!
Profile Image for Antonio Fanelli.
881 reviews121 followers
December 16, 2014
romanzo biografia, biografia romanzata? Tutto questo ed anche di più.
Artemisia vive, soffre, dipinge e noi con lei.
Il mondo intorno pulsa, suda, combatte incessante e l'autrice ci fa vivere tutto questo senza cadute.
Uno spendido viaggio nella creazione artistica e nel dolore e la dignità.
Profile Image for Antonella Imperiali.
1,061 reviews103 followers
March 25, 2019
Che novità, una donna che dipinge. Che cosa curiosa, assurda. Pensava persino che l'Accademia potesse accettarla. Che donna sciocca. Poteva riderne con i suoi amici alla taverna, ripetendo il vecchio detto: «Una donna è come un uovo. Più la sbatti, in un modo o nell'altro, migliore diventa.»
Preparai una cena frugale e andai a letto presto, in amaro silenzio.

«... in certi momenti della vita le nostre passioni ci rendono colpevoli di dolore e di perdite. In altri momenti siamo noi che soffriamo - e tutto in nome dell'arte. Talvolta otteniamo ciò che vogliamo. Talvolta paghiamo per un altro, che ottiene ciò che vuole. [...] Cosi funzionano le cose del mondo»

Si incontrano tanti personaggi in questo testo, ma le figure di Galileo Galilei e di Renata, la sua domestica di Genova, mi hanno letteralmente rapita, affascinata e commossa.
E poi ancora le suore: Graziella e Paola, sempre una parola dolce per lei, una carezza... e affetto.

Quanto ha sofferto Artemisia?
Il padre, il marito... Uomini! Non voglio pensarci, troppa rabbia, troppo dolore, troppa ingiustizia.

«Vorrei prenderla tra le braccia per confortarla»: lei lo ha detto in un soffio davanti alla bella Eva del Masaccio... io l’avrei fatto con lei, per lei...

Mi ha stordita, emozionata...
Bellissimo 💖

🗣 RC 2019 ~ Consigli marzo (da Lilirose)
📚 RC 2019 ~ Abbatti la TBR-> 37
📚 RC 2019 ~ Lo scaffale traboccante
🎨 Arte e dintorni
Profile Image for Chris.
718 reviews90 followers
August 4, 2016
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.
Profile Image for Linda P. .
30 reviews12 followers
January 1, 2019
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!
Profile Image for Gaetano.
464 reviews63 followers
June 22, 2020
Artemisia Gentileschi è una donna, è una pittrice, è una moglie, è una madre, ma soprattutto è uno spirito libero.

Il racconto inizia il 14 maggio del 1612, data del processo per stupro che la vede costretta a difendersi, da vittima, sottoponendosi anche alla tortura per sveltire l’accertamento della verità (e questa, purtroppo, era pratica diffusa all’epoca); stupro e processo sono due infausti eventi che la segneranno per tutta la vita, insieme al rapporto conflittuale con il padre Orazio, anch’esso pittore.

Il libro della Vreeland ci mostra il suo personaggio a tutto tondo, le sue lotte per affermarsi nel mondo maschilista della pittura, per non cadere sotto il giogo di un padrone e, soprattutto, il suo immenso amore per l’arte.

E l’arte arricchisce buona parte delle pagine narrate: i suoi dipinti, i mecenate, le sue peregrinazioni insieme alla figlia, in una affascinante esplorazione del valore e del potere dell’arte nel XVII secolo.

Ho apprezzato gli incontri con Cosimo de’ Medici e soprattutto quelli con Galieo Galilei che ne resta colpito per la forza con cui si oppone, come lui, a convenzioni e pregiudizi di quei tempi segnati anche dalla Sacra Congregazione della Romana e Universale Inquisizione.

Ho amato la protagonista, grazie anche alla bravura dell’autrice, e mi sono sentito coinvolto nelle sue vicissitudini, restando sempre incantato dalla sua coerenza e passione per l’arte e la libertà.

Altre due figure interessanti sono la suora Graziella, con il suo passato intrigante, e la cameriera di Genova, Renata, che si appassiona all’arte frequentando Artemisia, con una intensità tale da farle sperare che questo avvenga anche per la figlia.

Si tratta di un romanzo e non di una biografia vera e propria, ma è stato inevitabile, per me, leggerlo dando uno sguardo alle sue magnifiche opere, quelle vere. Tra tutte, la splendida Giuditta che decapita Oloferne, quasi un suo pensiero fisso, dipinta due volte: una a ridosso del processo e l’altra otto anni dopo circa, su commissione di Cosimo de’ Medici che si era scordato di pagarla, almeno fino all’intercessione del buon Galileo Galilei.
Profile Image for Deb (Readerbuzz) Nance.
5,740 reviews279 followers
May 1, 2020
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."
Profile Image for Mariagiulia.
296 reviews41 followers
June 14, 2021
"Nel frattempo, dissi, cercherò di sentire la terra muoversi."

Una vita dedicata all'arte quella di Artemisia Gentileschi, pittrice italiana di scuola caravaggesca che ha saputo trasferire sulla tela tutto il coraggio, la dignità e la passione con le quali si è imposta sulle crudeltà e i pregiudizi del suo tempo.
"Nei miei quadri rappresento l'onore, l'orgoglio, il rapimento e il dolore, il dubbio, l'amore e lo struggimento."
Il romanzo di Susan Vreeland è delicato e introspettivo ma potrebbe regalare più emozioni. La narrazione rimane in superficie e, nonostante il ritmo sia molto molto lento, la storia si sviluppa fin troppo rapidamente. Il focus rimane sempre sulle opere della Gentileschi, mi sarebbe piaciuto che venissero approfonditi anche alcuni aspetti della sua vita personale - tra cui il suo rapporto di amicizia con Galilei Galilei.
In ogni caso: lettura piacevole che può rappresentare un buon punto di partenza per chi si accosta per la prima volta alla vita della pittrice.
Profile Image for Rebecca.
308 reviews172 followers
April 2, 2011
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.
Profile Image for Lys.
359 reviews76 followers
December 15, 2020

Scritto bene, è scritto bene; con i suoi momenti lirici (specie nel finale) e la passione che annichilisce tutto il resto per l'arte.
Però più che una biografia romanzata di Artemisia mi è parso un romanzo con tante (troppe?) letture in chiave moderna che solo superficialmente si accosta alla figura di Artemisia. Le tappe della sua vita stravolte e rigirate, messe in ordine per come serve alla narrazione. Un bel prodotto finale, certo. Ma della storia di Artemisia ne rimane un po' poco.
Profile Image for Laura.
6,827 reviews551 followers
May 26, 2011
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 .
Profile Image for Duane.
828 reviews388 followers
September 7, 2015
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.
Profile Image for Katherine.
759 reviews346 followers
July 4, 2016
”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!
Profile Image for Silvia ❄️.
124 reviews15 followers
February 11, 2021
Artemisia, Artemisia. Ho sempre amato questa pittrice con un talento innato, la quale è stata costretta a lottare, durante la sua esistenza, con le ingiustizie che purtroppo ha dovuto subire. Ho apprezzato tantissimo le descrizioni delle opere, Susan Vreeland riesce a riportare su carta in maniera sublime ciò che tutti dovremmo solo ammirare dal vivo, almeno una volta nella vita. È un romanzo scorrevole e che si fa ben volere, tuttavia a volte ho trovato la caratterizzazione dei personaggi tendente in maniera eccessiva alla modernità, sembravano quasi stonare con l’epoca dell’ambientazione (il Seicento). Rimane comunque un romanzo storico ben scritto e lo consiglio specialmente agli appassionati di arte o agli studiosi della materia: nonostante la maggior parte della storia sia di fantasia, l’autrice riesce lo stesso a farci catapultare nella vita di questa artista straordinaria.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,040 reviews

Can't find what you're looking for?

Get help and learn more about the design.