Oil on canvas
1.505m by 1.025m
Spada Gallery, Rome.
This painting is often referred as “Saint Cecilia”. Artemisia’s father painted several women playing musical instruments. His poses may have influenced her choice of subject, which she painted while still in her late teens. She already displayed a grasp of early Baroque style. The pronounced chiaroscuro and the unidealised appearance of the subject echo the techniques of Caravaggio, which dominated Roman art in the early seventeenth century. She appears to have rejected her father’s much softer, late Mannerist style.
The attribution to Artemisa, while supported by many, has been challenged and her father or Giovanni Baglione have suggested as being the artist.
The Artist’s Life
Artemisia had completed her apprenticeship with Orazio by age seventeen. Her father was proud of her skills and for good reason: she was a precocious genius, like Raphael and Michelangelo. Nonetheless, art academies barred females from sketching or painting male nudes. To continue her training, Orazio arranged for a friend, Agostino Tassi, to tutor Artemisia.
Artemisia enjoyed the artistic milieu of Carracci, Reni and Domenchino and was a contemporary of Caravaggio, a friend of her father. She probably met Caravaggio in her childhood. He died in 1610 about the beginning of her career.