Who is Artemisia Gentileschi?
Recently, a family friend sent me this interesting video of a new acquisition by The National Gallery of London, UK. It is a self-portrait by 17th century artist, Artemisia Gentileschi, now widely celebrated as one of the greatest female artists of her time. But who knew about her? There is also the Belgian painter, Michaelina Wautier, an exceptional artist born just two decades after Gentileschi. Even the Archduke Leopold Wilhelm of Austria counted four of her works amongst his extensive art collection. However, these female contemporaries of much-celebrated Peter Paul Rubens and Anthony van Dyck are largely omitted from art textbooks and art history. Why? The answer is simple: they were women. As just one example, I often wonder what would have happened in the course of history if women’s accomplishments were taught and highlighted equal to men’s. How would our perception of ourselves and the messages girls and women internalize change if we saw more role models in our textbooks and historic narrative? Perhaps we will never know until the next generation of students grow up in an inclusive world where the phrase ‘most celebrated artist of the time’ doesn’t evoke just one gendered image. Then, we will have changed the world.