In a silly mood recently, I thought there was a joke to be made about how in my more confident days, this was a picture of me taking dictation from my muse. I mean, look at that gorgeous skin …
The painting was used by someone on Twitter and as is my inclination, I went off on a search.
The introduction of Artemisia Gentileschi began with this article which points out if one were to invest in art, one could do worse than investing in her paintings
“She has a position both as a feminist icon, who grappled with the not always beneficial attentions of the opposite sex, but also as an exponent of a robust style of figurative painting.” (Colin Gleadell, The Telegraph, 4 Dec. 18)
“Wait! Who is that?” I wondered and the search widened. Artemisia Gentileschi was the daughter of Orazio, himself a painter of some repute. She became known for paintings of strong women taking charge. Her best known painting is probably Judith Slaying Holofernes (below), in response to her own rape by her mentor, Agostino Tassi. Tassi was hired by Artemisia’s father because women weren’t allowed to attend the art academy. (Tassi was eventually convicted of rape.)
Wow. As I read further, I learned about the Power of Women, an artistic trope depicting “an admonitory and often humorous inversion of the male-dominated sexual hierarchy.” (Wikipedia, op cit)
This is the truncated version of how I finally got to know Artemisia Gentileschi and her work. There’s much to sort through and think about while placing her in the realm of feminist icon.
And, the name of the painting finally revealed itself at Robilant + Voena, in an exhibition of works inspired by La Artemisia.
By way of Atlas Obscura comes the story of Jarramplas, a monster who gets 30 tons of turnips thrown at him by townsfolk in celebration of … no one’s quite sure what. It’s a town tradition with no settled origin story.
As I read, it struck me as one of the many ways people chased demons away. Turnips in Spain, Zozobra in New Mexico, and sin-eating among them.
Although sin-eating may be borderline because it’s not really chasing the demons away. It’s eating a ritual meal over the body by a designated person. By eating this meal, the sin-eater absorbs the sins of the dead resulting in absolution of the deceased’s soul.
Zozobra represents gloom and annually storms Santa Fe determined to spread it over the entire world, beginning with the children. His eventual burning, brought about by fire spirit dancer, chases the gloom, and bad spirits, of the year away. Light returns, and the Fiestas de Santa Fe begins.
Further it brings to mind Shirley Jackson’s story The Lottery, about an annual ritual performed by townspeople who stone the loser of the lottery to death in order to ensure continued well being of the town and bring about a good harvest.