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Lapierre, Alexandra

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ISBN 10: 0802116728 / ISBN 13: 9780802116727
Published by Grove Press, New York, New York, U.S.A., 2000
Condition: Fine Hardcover
From Garrison House Books IOBA (Medina, OH, U.S.A.)

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About this Item

Very handsome copy. no chips, tears, or price-clipping and most handsome in brand new protective mylar. Only fault is a few small indentations to front of dustjacket, none of which have penetrated paper. Boldly SIGNED by author on title page. A gripping read which tells the true story of the artist, Artemisia Gentileschi born at the beginning of the 1600's, and a talent so shining that it surpassed the prejudices of the era. 427 pages. Bookseller Inventory # 13143

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Bibliographic Details

Title: Artemisia

Publisher: Grove Press, New York, New York, U.S.A.

Publication Date: 2000

Binding: Hard Cover

Book Condition:Fine

Dust Jacket Condition: Very Good

Signed: SIGNED by Author

Edition: First Printing

About this title


An international best-seller, Artemisia is based on the passionate story of one of the Western world's first significant female artists. Born to the artist Orazio Gentileschi at the beginning of the 1600s, when artists were the celebrities of the day, Artemisia was apprenticed to her father at an early age, showing such remarkable talent that he viewed her as the most precious thing in his life. But at the age of seventeen Artemisia was raped by her father's best friend and partner. The Gentileschi name was dragged through scandal, for Artemisia refused, even when tortured, to deny it happened. Indeed, she went further: she dared to plead her case in court. All of Rome was riveted by the trial. Artemisia won the case, but lost the love of her father and of all of Rome. Artemisia sought revenge through her art, portraying women liberating their fellow citizens from tyrants. Her stunning works took Rome by storm, overturning the prejudices of her time and winning the admiration of patrons, courtesans, and monarchs. Lapierre brings the historical Artemisia Gentileschi to vivid life, capturing the sights, sounds, and smells of Baroque Italy as well as the life of this remarkable woman.


Small wonder that biographer Alexandra Lapierre was drawn to write about Artemisia Gentileschi, one of the first female painters to gain acclaim in the male-dominated 17th-century art world. Her story has all the ingredients of high drama: rape, jealousy, and an infamous court trial set against a backdrop of art and passion. Meticulously researched, framed in a fictional context, Lapierre's treatment applies a painterly touch to a scholarly work. Billed as a biography in the U.K. but as a novel in the U.S., it combines the rigor of one genre with the page-turning immediacy of the other.

Born in Rome to the artist Orazio Gentileschi and his wife Prudenzia, Artemisia's life was turned upside down after the death of her mother. Orazio jealously guarded his only daughter, refusing her outside contact even as he taught her the subtleties of painting. At 17, Artemisia, already a skilled artist, was facing a life of spinsterhood as her father's prisoner. Yet the Gentileschi household was full of the comings and goings of artists whose shifting allegiances were as complex as the politics of the time. When Orazio's friend, arrogant trompe l'oeil master Agostino Tassi, set his sights on young Artemisia, her refusals only stoked his passion. What followed was rape. Tassi kept her quiet through promises of marriage; when marriage was not forthcoming, Tassi found himself in court.

Even under torture, Artemisia's statement never wavered, and eventually Tassi was convicted. The mild sentence scarcely harmed him, yet the experience had a lasting effect on his victim. Touched by scandal, Artemisia was able to marry an inferior painter only by virtue of a substantial dowry. Through an unhappy marriage, the deaths of her first children, and the lives of her daughters, however, she continued to paint, eventually gaining considerable acclaim. Interestingly enough, given her experiences, her paintings of religious allegory often portrayed women in illustrations of strength and dominance. If her depiction of Judith violently decapitating Holofernes elicited the Grand Duchess's repulsion, the Grand Duke Cosimo II was riveted. Others in the room saw the allusion to the artist's own past: "'This face, so close to death, brings someone to mind,' the secretary, Andrea Cioli, interjected insidiously. 'A painter, your Highness...'"

Artemisia blends storytelling and careful detail in a complex rendering that will particularly appeal to readers with an interest in either Baroque art or Italian history. Color plates illustrate the haunting quality of Artemisia's work, and the end notes make clear which portions derive from documentation and which are fictional strokes of color. The uninitiated may have a difficult time unraveling the intricacies of characters and politics, perhaps because Lapierre is more at home with scholarship than with fiction. Worse, her breathless prose sometimes tries too hard, even while doing little to reveal her characters' inner worlds. In the end, it's both the compelling quality of Artemisia's story and the lushness of Lapierre's supporting detail that hold this unusual book together. --Anne DeGrace

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Garrison House Books has maintained an on-line presence since 1997. We are a general interest used, rare, and out-of-print bookstore based in the quaint Victorian town of Medina, Ohio. American history, children's books and ephemera (the history of the people) intrigue us most, but we buy and maintain books in all categories. We are Tess and Eric Kindig, married forever, and passionate about books, bookselling and readers. Tess has been a newspaper reporter, magazine writer, and public relations director, and is still a working author with 13 published books to her credit. Eric owns Log Cabin Inc. in Lodi, Ohio, an 8,000-plus square foot retail establishment specializing in historical books and reenactment accoutrements. In addition to his remarkable ability to schlep large piles of books from hither to yon, Eric brings over 30 years of retail experience to this endeavor! Also, joining our staff are our beloved bookshop kitties -- Miss Lil and Mickey. The former provides gentility and elan, and the latter (who is basically a street thug) provides comic relief. We believe that books are treasures, not commodities, and that readers are individuals, not numbers. Our greatest joy is in getting to know you and serving you with grace and good humor. We appreciate your business very much!

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