Jonathan Jones on the new Caravaggio exhibition at the Queen’s Gallery in Buckingham Palace: “They were called Caravaggisti and indulged in gore and self-dramatisation in the manner of their murderous mentor Caravaggio, providing a dark mirror for Charles I’s mad delusions. Outstanding among them was Artemisia Gentileschi. “There were many Caravaggisti, but only one Caravaggista,” a modern biographer wrote of this contemporary icon. Her Self-Portrait as the Muse of Painting is the best reason to visit this exhibition. . .
This is a very physical, dangerous picture of making art that goes back to Michelangelo painting the Sistine Ceiling and looks forward to Jackson Pollock. But they were men. Artemisia Gentileschi is wearing a green dress and gold necklace on her muscular form. She is both the painter and “the muse of painting”.”
Like Caravaggio, Gentileschi was forgotten for centuries until the recent revival of interest in her work. There’s a pretty good movie about her called Artemisia, directed by Agnes Merlet.Â It starts with the Academy of Fine Arts refusing to admit her as a student because she’s female and forbidden to work from nude male models. As for Caravaggio himself, there’s the Derek Jarman movie.