Orazio Gentileschi and the Poetic Tradition in Caravaggesque Painting
Ward BissellThe first comprehensive examination of Gentileschi's art and its pan-European influence, this interpretive study reveals how his art responded to changing artistic tastes and sociocultural influences and dispels the myth that his exquisite paintings came only from "the tip of his brush." It does so by addressing his deliberate stylistic/expressive decisions in considering subject matter, didactic function, scale, medium, physical location, and patronage. Orazio Gentileschi is presented here as the foremost painter among Caravaggio's Roman "followers," and one of the great Italian painters of the seventeenth century. Much of the text is built around events in Gentileschi's personal life—the departure from Rome of Caravaggio (under indictment for murder); the trial of Agostino Tassi (also a painter) for the rape of Orazio's daughter, Artemisia (a well known artist in her own right); a call to France by Marie de'Medici; an invitation to England from the Duke of Buckingham and King Charles I (where he became an official court painter)—since it was by them, above all, that his career was shaped. The book includes a lengthy Catalogue Raisonné encompassing autograph works, lost works, questionable attributions, and incorrect attributions; appendices summarizing over 100 documents (many not previously cited) concerning Orazio's life and work; and an extensive collection of photographs showing all of Gentileschi's preserved works (canvases, panels, frescoes, mosaics) plus a considerable number of "doubtful" and comparative paintings. Reviewers have commented that "Bissell . . . has made recent important archival discoveries"; that "never before have Orazio Gentileschi's work been approached on a comparable level."
R. Ward Bissell received the Ph.D. from the University of Michigan, where he now teaches in the area of art history. Dr. Bissell conducted extensive research in Rome and Florence during preparation of this manuscript, and has contributed articles to professional art history journals.
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