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April 2019: History > The Passion of Artemesia, Susan Vreeland, 3.5 stars, [Horizons Italy]

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message 1: by NancyJ (last edited Apr 22, 2019 07:32PM) (new)

NancyJ (nancyjjj) | 5584 comments The Passion of Artemisia is about the Renaissance artist Artemisia Genteleschi. She was the first woman accepted to a prestigious academy for established painters in Florence. She was very productive (google her name to see some of her paintings) and focused on painting strong women in biblical stories. One advantage to being a female painter is that she was allowed to use naked (female) models to paint nudes. The men weren't.

The book includes wonderful details about life, art and historical events in Florence, Rome and other Italian cities where she got commissions. She includes details that I wouldn't have recognized a month ago, before sampling other books on Italian history. That made the book more fun for me. She talks about many different artists and painting, the Uffizi gallery, Brunellischi's Dome, Galileo, the Popes, politics, etc. The book also covers her personal life, with an early trial, her father, husband, daughter, and her close friendship with one of the nuns that helped to raise her. The nun was an interesting character at the end.

One of my favorite scenes is when she and her husband climb high up in the city in the rain to see the Dome, and to try to feel that the earth is moving. I loved her friendship with Galileo, and their letters about the pressure for him to denounce his "heretical" theories. The last half of the book really dragged for me, and brought down my rating.

Note for Sensitive readers - The story begins with a rape trial where she is tortured (by tying her fingers tightly) to determine whether or not she is lying about her accusation of rape. There are no assaults after this. (She gets over the trauma of the rape before she gets over her anger about the trial.) She soon enters into an arranged marriage which brings her to Florence, and the rest of her life.


message 2: by Jgrace (new)

Jgrace | 2946 comments 3.5 stars is the way I usually feel about a Vreeland book . Usually that means I won't go out of my way to read more of an author's books. But, she picks such interesting art subjects! This one is lingering on my TBR. Thanks for this review.


message 3: by NancyJ (new)

NancyJ (nancyjjj) | 5584 comments Jgrace wrote: "3.5 stars is the way I usually feel about a Vreeland book . Usually that means I won't go out of my way to read more of an author's books. But, she picks such interesting art subjects! This one is ..."

I know what you mean. I gave 3 stars to another one of her books too. I'm rarely satisfied with fictionalized descriptions of real people beyond what they accomplished. The first half of the book was much better than the last half. The most interesting character at the end was the nun.


message 4: by Magdalena (new)

Magdalena | 414 comments I think Artemisia Genteleschi is such a wonderful artist, I would love to read a book on her but most of the ones I've come across tend to get lukewarm reviews. I do have Blood Water Paint on my trim list.


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