Artemisia Gentileschi

Artemisia Gentileschi’s first known work (which some scholars have attributed, in part, to her father) was painted in 1610, when she was 17 years old. Titled Susanna and the Elders, the work depicts a biblical story in which a fair, pious wife is ogled by a group of lecherous male elders as she bathes. Though it wasn’t an uncommon subject for artists at the time, Gentileschi rendered it differently than most. In her version, the woman being aggressed—and her response upon discovering that she’s being watched—takes center stage. “Artemisia’s Susanna presents us with an image rare in art, of a three-dimensional female character who is heroic,” Gentileschi’s biographer Mary D. Garrard has explained. Unlike other representations, “the expressive core of Gentileschi’s painting is the heroine’s plight, not the villains’ anticipated pleasure,” Garrard continued.