Artemisia Gentileschi, the most important female representative of European baroque painting, was born daughter of the painter Orazio Gentileschi at Rome in 1593. Quite unusual for this epoch, the girl received professional training in painting.
Her apprenticeship began, presumably after initial private painting lessons, around 1608/09. At the age of 17 Artemisia Gentileschi dated her first painting "Susanna and the Elders" in 1610. Her education, however, did not proceed without problems: In 1611 Artemisia Gentileschi was victim of a rape by the painter Agostino Tassi, who states at court that he taught her in perspective painting.
In 1612 the dishonored Artemisia Gentileschi Pierantonio Stiattesi married an unsuccessful painter from Florence. She followed her husband to his native town; for a short time she adopted he father´s actual last name and was called Artemisia Lomi. In Florence Artemisia Gentileschi soon came in contact with artist circles, and in 1616 she was accepted into the Accademia del Disegno - as the first woman in the institution´s history. She soon earned some fame: No one lesser than Cosimo de´ Medici was among her commissioners. In terms of style, Artemisia Gentileschi, who was close to the Caravaggisti, initially followed the path her father had taught her. However, she added more spontaneity, a stronger coloring and dresses in exquisite cloth.
In 1621 the painter returned to Rome, where she lived separated from her husband as of 1623, because he had been involved in a brawl a year earlier. In Rome Artemisia Gentileschi was able to continue the success she had accomplished in Florence: The duke of Alcalá bought a painting from her, around 1625 she made a bronze portrait medal for her honor. In her works from the second Roman period Artemisia Gentileschi was increasingly geared at the Caravaggisti from north of the Alps, that was Gerrit van Honthorst and Simon Vouet, who also made a portrait of the young painter.
In 1627, during a sojourn in Venice, she was active for Philipp IV of Spain; in 1630 she was in Naples. 1639 the latest Artemisia Gentileschi traveled from Naples to London, where she presumably assisted her father in the execution of ceilings at Queen´s House.
It is unknown for how long she stayed in England, documents do not mention her in Naples before 1648, where she seems to have been in charge of a quite large workshop with several employees, who repeatedly rendered popular motifs.
In 1654 Artemisia Gentileschi died in Naples as the epoch´s most famous female artist.