And in revenge Artemisia Gentileschi painted many Judiths

Aldo Cazzullo (photo by Carlo Furgeri Gilbert).

Lhe exhibition of the year is the one at Galleries of Italy in Napleson Via Toledo. And it is dedicated to Artemisia Gentileschiin particular to his stay in Naples.

21 of his works are exhibited, which illustrate the parable of the “painter”as she was called (the word painter did not exist): for the first time the Italian public can admire masterpieces such as the Saint Catherine of Alexandria recently acquired by the National Gallery in London; moreover, the same Saint of the Nationalmuseum in Stockholm or the Judith and the handmaid with the head of Holofernes of the Nasjonalmuseet in Oslo.

Then here are the great and rare public commissions of the painter, fromAnnunciation of Capodimonte to two of the three monumental canvases made for the choir of the cathedral of Pozzuoli, the San Gennaro in the amphitheater And Saints Proculus and Nicaeathe latter restored for the occasion.

But there is an equally interesting aspect that goes beyond the canvases on display. Artemisia arrives in Naples after a long wanderingfrom Florence to Venice, at the end of an endless escape from his city, Rome.

In Rome Artemisia had learned to paint, and he had known the violence of Agostino Tassi. In Rome she had been tortured: because, then as now, she was often the victim of rape to get into the dock. Artemisia won that trial; but the Pope pardoned the condemned man.

Also for this The theme of the woman who takes her revenge on the man recurs in Artemisia’s painting. It was a deeply unjust society, we know that.

We like less to remember that under fascism women in fact could not work, that they voted for the first time in 1946, that they still could not enter the judiciary in the 1950s, that the first woman became a minister only in 1976, the year after the abolition of marital authority.

The honor killing remains in effect until 1981, e until 1996 rape was a crime against morals and not against the person. Artemisia’s work and life are more than ever the battle of a pioneer.

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All articles by Aldo Cazzullo