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The Passion of Artemisia

3.88  ·  Rating details ·  16,424 ratings  ·  857 reviews
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 s ...more
Paperback, 315 pages
Published January 2003 by Penguin Books (first published November 8th 2001)
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3.88  · 
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 ·  16,424 ratings  ·  857 reviews


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B the BookAddict
Aug 19, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to B the BookAddict by: Chrissie
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 or
...more
Candi
"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 t
...more
Suzanne
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
...more
Chrissie
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 ...more
Hilary G
Dec 11, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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 d
...more
Natasa
Mar 08, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: italy, art-history
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 t ...more
Jeanette
Jan 17, 2016 rated it it was amazing
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 cha
...more
Orsolya
Jun 17, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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!
Laura
May 26, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Chrissie
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 .
Katherine
”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 sh
...more
Duane
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.
Rebecca
Mar 27, 2011 rated it it was ok
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 fema
...more
Linda P.
Dec 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
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!
Marialyce
Mar 07, 2017 rated it really liked it
This was a wonderful, beautifully told tale of an artist named Artemesia who was portrayed as a woman painter in the seventeenth century. The book delves into the difficulties of being a woman during those times, especially a woman who was raped and one who was an artist. Artemisia had a most tenuous relationship with her father, also an artist, with her husband, a philanderer and an unfaithful man, and her daughter who oftentimes bore the brunt of the lack of her mother's love because her mothe ...more
Chris
Apr 10, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: hf, italy, artists
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 ...more
Ali Lafferty
Aug 16, 2017 rated it really liked it
Artemisia Gentileschi was a total badass: she gets sexually assaulted by her dad's artist friend, is then pledged to be married to that artist, then has to testify in court against him and marry someone else for "convenience" because she is now "impure." Through all this, she perseveres in her own art, painting Judith after Judith beheading Holofernes and earning her spot as the first female artist in the Accademia. This was all truth, but only Susan Vreeland could write about Artemisia with suc ...more
caravaggion
Aug 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: historical, history
this was everything i wanted it to be n im not gonna say much about it because its late n im super tired but this book reminded me a lot of my art teacher, who, out of all my highschool teachers is the one i still think about the most, that woman was a total badass, a super strong person who, even though shy by nature, lives her truest life and i will never forget about her
Sherri Silvera
Jun 02, 2019 rated it did not like it
Shelves: dnf
This was a DNF for me. I could not force myself to finish even though I was half way through and it got such good reviews. I found it to be tedious.
Darci
Nov 12, 2008 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: history buffs, art buffs
This book was such an interesting read, especially considering the events are pretty historically accurate, as far as I can tell (which isn't too far, but still...).
Aspects that make me lean toward 5 stars:
- the story line! Such a fascinating story! This makes you turn each page with relish!
- the characters... so many flawed but interesting people!
- the history, although it made me so GLAD I'm not living in the 1600s Italy.
Aspects that back off this review to 4 stars:
- the somewhat choppiness of
...more
Krystl Louwagie
It's a high 3 stars because it was written well, and I have to love Artemisia, always have. However, the book focuses a lot on things I'm not interested in, such as marriage and kids and cheating husbands and and forgiveness. I guess maybe I'm still too young and an angry person, but...I think forgiveness is over-rated.
It was a nice look into what might've been Artemisia's life, but I don't have any idea why this is supposed to be a YA novel, other than maybe it's not long and isn't super in dep
...more
melydia
Feb 23, 2014 rated it liked it
A fictionalized look at the life of Artemisia Gentileschi, an Italian Baroque painter in the 17th century. I'd never heard of her before this, and I found looking up her paintings enhanced my enjoyment of the book. The story begins during the latter part of the trial of her rapist, and continues through her times in Florence, Genoa, Rome, Naples, and London. It's interesting how the rape trial was all but skipped, seeming to imply that we all know that story already, even though it shaped the co ...more
Dree
May 28, 2015 rated it liked it
I enjoyed this book more than I expected to--I picked it up at a used book sale simply because Vreeland's Girl in Hyacinth Blue is one of my favorite books.

But what Girl has is clearly inimitable. The painting s the main character, the hops through time. It's an unusual little book, and it is wonderful.

Artemesia is more traditional historical fiction. It is certainly readable and interesting, and I had never heard of Artemesia Gentileschi before picking up this book. But historical fiction that
...more
Donna
Apr 05, 2015 rated it liked it
I have a cute little niece with this same name so when I had to pick a book about a painter it was easy to pull this one up. This was historical fiction and my second novel by this author. It was post-renaissance in Italy and a young woman was trying to make it as a painter.

I liked this for the most part. I appreciate the characters that this author creates. They seem to always possess a thread of reasoning. But with that being said, I think that is why I dislike her reprehensible characters be
...more
indiefishsteak
Sep 29, 2007 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: those who need to forgive
When I started reading this book I had high hopes, since it's a book about a female painter in Rome. I was disappointed after the active beginning that most of it came across as either a textbook on art or on Italian history, neither of which I was expecting. However, as the characters developed more and the timeflow became less irregular (or rather I became more accustomed to the irregularity), the real message of forgiveness and how our lives impact others came across. Overall it was worth the ...more
Kim
Oct 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
Artemisia Gentileschi was a woman before her time: an incredibly accomplished Baroque artist, influenced by Caravaggio and Michelangelo, the child of Orazio Gentileschi (a talented painter as well), she was the first woman admitted into the Accademia delle Arti del Disegno. She painted in Rome, Florence, Venice, Naples and England for such illustrious patron as the Medici family and the King and Queen of England. She was known for her ability to depict the female form realistically and inject be ...more
Megan
A fiery and compelling fictionalized account of the life of painter Artemisia Gentileschi. I tend to find fictionalized accounts of real-life historical figures tedious, so I was pleasantly surprised by just how readable, thoughtful, and fast-paced this was. I think that was due to a) the immediacy, vulnerability, and clarity of the first-person voice and b) the choices Vreeland made as to where to start, end, and arc her story.

Vreeland begins her story with the day Artemisia is tortured during
...more
Lígia Bellini
May 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
That was a very interesting and more detailed reading about the famous painter Artemisia Gentileschi. Artemisia was a strong woman whom fought for her place at machist society. She learned since her childhood to paint and she was even better than her father Orazio Gentileschi and his best friend. At young age, Artemisia was raped by her best friend's father, the painter Agostino Tassi. She went to a public trial, was tortured and humiliated, so Artemisia could claim justice to her. She won, not ...more
Deirdre
Feb 22, 2015 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Cyndi
May 08, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: audio
I loved Artemesia's strength, tenacity and perseverance and the depiction of a female artist and all her struggles to survive and thrive as an artist during this very stressful and tumultuous time period. I also enjoyed the fictional relationship she shared with Galileo and the author's interpretation of him and his astronomical insights, as well as how they were perceived by others during this era.
Jill Pfuetze Schmidt
Successful mash-up of late Renaissance Florence, Rome, Genoa with contemporary language. Quite interesting. Thought-provoking.
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Susan Vreeland is 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 is known for writing historical fiction on art-related themes, including Girl in Hyacinth Blue, The Passion of Artemisia, Luncheon of the Boating Party, and Clara and Mr. Tiffany. Her books have been translated into 26 languag ...more
“I remember being disappointed when Papa had shown me Caravaggio's Judith. She was completely passive while she was sawing through a man's neck. Caravaggio gave all the feeling to the man. Apparently, he couldn't imagine a woman to have a single thought. I wanted to paint her thoughts, if such a thing were possible -- determination and concentration and belief in the absolute necessity of the act. The fate of her people resting on her shoulders...” 6 likes
“What could she possibly have done that was so heinous as to earn her a lifetime of self-mortification? No one short of a tyrant deserved such unremitting agony. I cried there with her, for her, for Eve, for sorrows past, for sorrows yet to come. I put my pencil away. It was wrong to draw live pain. If there had been an artist at Bethany, it would have been wrong to intrude his chalk or charcoal on Mary Magdalene’s weeping as she washed Jesus’ feet. Some things were too raw for art until time dulled their sharpness.” 5 likes
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