Artemisia was particularly drawn to the story of Judith, and any other story that involved a female protagonist coming out of adversity in some way. Perhaps she saw herself in these stories somehow, as a woman trying to become something great in a time and place where it wasn't exactly something easy to do.
So this brings me to her "Self Portrait as a Lute Player." For one thing, I do love the execution and the handling of the material in this painting. It is great as usual for Artemisia. But I also love the way this painting embodies everything I've talked about with her story. It wasn't enough for her to just be a good painter, but as a woman she had to be assertive as well. At one point in her life, she was raped, and yet it did not stop her. So when I look at this self-portrait, I see the tenderness of a woman as she plays the lute, as well as the sensuality of her dress (another quality frequently seen in her work). But then I also see the assertive look on her face. This is the look of a woman who is determined to be something great, and even to rise above some of the men in her work. So when I think of Artemisia's story, I look at this painting as the quintessential self-portrait because it portrays everything that she was.
|Self Portrait as a Lute Player|
oil on canvas