by Nathalie Ferlut (Author), Tamia Baudouin (Illustrator), Maëlle Doliveux (Translator)
Artemisia Gentileschi was a painter of passions; of rich colors and fraught moments; of women taking command of their own stories. She reversed the classical depictions of female characters in mythology, presenting them with agency, as the protagonists of their own narratives. And she was the hero of her own story, too. Despite working in a male-dominated field at a time when women could not even legally buy painting supplies, Gentileschi created an independent life for herself as a stunning artist of unparalleled power and uncompromised vision. She achieved fame and fortune through her own work, as the one of the first women ever to support herself with her artwork. She often diverged from classical depictions of women as delicate and submissive, carving out her own trail as a fierce proto-feminist thinker. She reinterpreted biblical and mythological scenes through a lens of female agency and empowerment, from the shockingly visceral Judith Slaying Holofernes to her unflinchingly frank depiction of sexual harassment and abuse in Susanna and the Elders. These issues were deeply personal for her: Gentileschi was a survivor of repeated sexual assaults by her tutor. Though the Gentileschi's brought him to court and won, Artemisia endured torture by thumbscrews in the process of a brutal trial. Finding her reputation in Rome irreparably tarnished after the trial, she left, refusing to allow the abuse in her past to define her. Instead, she reinvented herself in Florence, becoming the first woman to join their prestigious academy of arts and going on to attract a robust international patronage. This gorgeous graphic biography tells her story through the eyes of her daughter Prudentia, as she delves into the vivid, troubled, heroic life story of one of the greatest painters ever to lift a brush.