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The Trials of Artemisia Gentileschi: A Rape as History

Elizabeth S. Cohen
The Sixteenth Century Journal
Vol. 31, No. 1, Special Edition: Gender in Early Modern Europe (Spring, 2000), pp. 47-75
DOI: 10.2307/2671289
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2671289
Page Count: 29
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The Trials of Artemisia Gentileschi: A Rape as History
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Abstract

Lately rediscovered and celebrated as a talented female artist in the great tradition of European painting, Artemisia Gentileschi continues to be represented as strongly defined by her sexuality. Incomplete and anachronistic readings of the records from the 1612 trial for her rape have underpinned an image of Artemisia as, in the older treatments, a flirt and vamp or, in more recent ones, a feminist and resister of male violence. Here a more historical interpretation of the documents restores the painter to her seventeenth-century context and adjusts our understanding of both her behavior during this youthful episode and her later achievements.

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