Title: The Passion of Artemesia
Publisher: Viking Penguin, New York, NY, U.S.A.
Publication Date: 2002
Binding: Hard Cover
Book Condition: Fine
Dust Jacket Condition: Fine
Edition: First Edition.
FINE/FINE copy protected by Archival Brodart Cover. Size: 8vo - over 7¾" - 9¾" tall. Bookseller Inventory # 000782
Synopsis: In her luminous debut novel, Susan Vreeland told the story of a Vermeer painting that transformed the lives of its many owners with its beauty. Now, in her stunning new novel, she tells the story of a painter who transformed Renaissance Italy with the beauty of her work. The Passion of Artemisia chronicles the extraordinary life of Artemisia Gentileschi, the first woman to make a significant contribution to art history.
At age eighteen, Artemisia Gentileschi finds herself humiliated in papal court for publicly accusing the man who raped her-Agostino Tassi, her painting teacher. When even her father does not stand up for her, she knows she cannot stay in Rome and begs to have a marriage arranged for her. Her new husband, an artist named Pietro Stiatessi, takes her to his native Florence, where her talent for painting blossoms and she becomes the first woman to be elected to the Accademia dell'Arte. But marriage clashes with Artemisia's newfound fame as a painter, and she begins a lifelong search to reconcile painting and motherhood, passion and genius.
Set against the glorious backdrops of Rome, Florence, and Genoa, peopled with historical characters such as Cosimo de' Medici and Galileo and filled with the details of the life of a Renaissance painter, The Passion of Artemisia is the story of Gentileschi's struggle to find love, forgiveness, and wholeness through her art. At once a dramatic tale of love and a moving father-daughter story, it is the portrait of an astonishing woman that will captivate lovers of Gentileschi's paintings and anyone interested in the life of a woman who ignored the conventions of her day and dared to follow her heart.
Review: Like her bestselling debut, Girl in Hyacinth Blue, Susan Vreeland's second novel, The Passion of Artemisia, traces a particular painting through time: in this case, the post-Renaissance painter Artemisia Gentileschi's violent masterpiece, "Judith." Although the novel purports to cover the life of the painter, the painting serves as a touchstone, foreshadowing Artemisia's rape by Agostino Tassi, an assistant in her father's painting studio in Rome; the well-documented (and humiliating) trial that followed; the early days of her hastily arranged marriage; and her eventual triumph as the first woman elected to the Accademia dell' Arte in Florence. Although Vreeland makes a bit free with her characters (which she admits in her introduction), attributing some decidedly modern attitudes to people who would not have thought that way at the time, her book is beautifully researched and rich with casual detail of clothing, interiors, and street life. She deftly works history and politics into the background of her canvas, keeping her focus on Artemisia and her family. Beyond the paintings Artemisia left behind, Vreeland's vision may be as close as we can come to understanding the anger and ambition that kept this talented woman at the doors of the Accademia, demanding entrance, in a time when respectable women rarely left their homes. --Regina Marler
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