Rape in 1611

Written by Alana Jolley

February 16, 2016

Rape in 1611

Self-Portrait of Artemisia Gentileschi

Rape victim

Self-portrait of Artemisia Gentileschi, Baroque Period Artist in Italy

Rape in 1611 was a crime committed upon a teenaged female art student.  Rape has been common in every culture and throughout every century.  It is a subject often swept under the carpet. Many times it is believed to be the woman’s fault. In 1611, Artemisia Gentileschi (1593-1653) was a sexually assaulted woman who won a legal case against her rapist. (We don’t know what she won, or what consequences the rapist received.) Artemisia became one of the most well-known female artists of the Baroque Period, (1600-1750), but she suffered greatly from her tragic experience.

There was backlash against her art due to the violent content she painted.  She was said to have “repressed vengeance,” which caused her to choose violence as subject matter. Repressed vengeance could hardly be unexpected in a young woman assaulted by her teacher.  Her critics claimed she used, “. . . her fame from the rape trial to cater to a niche market in sexually-charged, female-dominant art for intrigued male patrons.”  Why do teachers not realize it is an ultimate betrayal to be assaulted and raped by them?  They are persons who are trusted by the person they perpetrate this crime upon.


Due to our century’s access to 24/7 news in all media outlets, we may think rape is a newly publicized crime in current cultural contexts. Ms. Gentileschi’s rape experience shows it is not the case.  She was 18 years old when she was raped; only one year after she completed her earliest artistic work, “Susanna and the Elders,” in 1610.

To learn more about Artemisia Gentileschi, her early cultural environment, how her father, who was also an artist, influenced her art, and other trials she overcame, follow the links below:


To see more of her amazing paintings, and their subjects, follow the link below.


An interesting blog about Artemisia and other Art, Nature, and Everyday Life for Unique Perspectives, Uncommon Grace, and Unexpected Insights is:



To learn more about culture in various Global Villages, see






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