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Visiting Scholar Lecture – Sheila Barker on Becoming Artemisia
WhenThursday, May 16, 2019, 4 – 5 p.m.
Campus locationArt Building (ART)
Campus roomRooms 227/229
Event typesLectures/Seminars
Event sponsorsDivision of Art History, School of Art + Art History + Design

Becoming Artemisia: The Career Strategies of a Woman Painter in Baroque Italy

In the early seventeenth century, when Artemisia Gentileschi set out to become a professional painter, there were only three Italian women who had successfully taken this path before her: Properzia de' Rossi, Sofonisba Anguissola, and Lavinia Fontana. Such models may have offered her encouragement, but they did not offer a precise road map for addressing practical challenges of her career. The peculiarity of Artemisia's circumstances obliged her to improvise resourceful strategies for financing her workshop, juggling a family and work, attracting patrons, and turning her gender into an advantage. Recent archival discoveries show that her solutions were effective, adroit, and ingenious, as well as risky and occasionally unscrupulous. Her boldness paid off: by her late 20s, she had achieved a level of fame and financial success that would transform her into a living legend in the eyes of her contemporaries.

Based at the Medici Archive Project in Florence, Italy, art historian Sheila Barker founded the Jane Fortune Research Program on Women Artists in 2010. Her archival discoveries have led to publications on many pioneering women artists, including Plautilla Nelli, Lucrezia Quistelli, Artemisia Gentileschi, Giovanna Garzoni, Suor Teresa Berenice Vitelli, and Irene Parenti Duclos. She has also published on Michelangelo, Bernini, and Poussin, as well as on iconographic themes such as plague and St. Sebastian. Outside of art history, she has extensively investigated the history of medicine and pharmacy in early modern Florence. She has held fellowships at the Indianapolis Museum of Art, the Smithsonian American Art Museum, and the Medici Archive Project.

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