Humanities Essay

Watch Michael Palin’s Quest for Artemisia (Links to an external site.) (Links to an external site.)

Read From a letter to Don Antonio Ruffo (below).

Artemisia Gentileschi (1593–ca. 1653): From a letter to Don Antonio Ruffo

Artemisia Gentileschi’s letter of November 13, 1649, to her patron reveals the relationship of the painter to her patron and issues of originality, of price, of working with models—and, throughout, the letter discloses her acute awareness and even contempt for those who treated her less fairly because she is a woman.

I have received a letter of October 26th, which I deeply appreciated, particularly noting how my master always concerns himself with favoring me, contrary to my merit. In it, you tell me about that gentleman who wishes to have some paintings by me, that he would like a Galatea and a Judgment of Paris, and that the Galatea should be different from the one that Your Most Illustrious Lordship owns. There was no need for There was no need for you to urge me to do this, since by the grace of God and the Most Holy Virgin, they [clients] come to a woman with this kind of talent, that is, to vary the subjects in my painting; never has anyone found in my pictures any repetition of invention, not even of one hand.

As for the fact that this gentleman wishes to know the price before the work is done,… I do it most unwillingly… I never quote a price for my works until they are done. However, since Your Most Illustrious Lordship wants me to do this, I will do what you command. Tell this gentleman that I want five hundred ducats for both; he can show them to the whole world and, should he find anyone who does not think the paintings are worth two hundred scudi more, I won’t ask him to pay me the agreed price. I assure Your Most Illustrious Lordship that these are paintings with nude figures requiring very expensive female models, which is a big headache. When I find good ones they fleece me, and at other times, one must suffer [their] pettiness with the patience of Job.

As for my doing a drawing and sending it, I have made a solemn vow never to send my drawings because people have cheated me. In particular, just today I found… that, having done a drawing of souls in Purgatory for the Bishop of St. Gata, he, in order to spend less, commissioned another painter to do the painting using my work. If I were a man, I can’t imagine it would have turned out this way.…

I must caution Your Most Illustrious Lordship that when I ask a price, I don’t follow the custom in Naples, where they ask thirty and then give it for four. I am Roman, and therefore I shall act always in the Roman manner.Source: Gentileschi’s Letters in The Voices of Women Artists, ed. Wendy Slatkin (Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1993). 

write your Brief Essay Response.

What does this letter communicate about the artist’s use of live movie deals and why they were “a big headache”?  (The Document is already an Excerpt, so please read the entire Document.)

A Brief Essay Response should consist of at least 8 sentences, following this format:A topic sentence that answers the essay question generally.

  1. A sentence that makes your first point or gives your first answer.
  2. A sentence that further supports, illustrates, or discusses the first point or first answer
  3. A sentence that makes your second point or gives your second answer.
  4. A sentence that further supports, illustrates, or discusses the second point or second answer.
  5. A sentence that makes your third point or gives your third answer.
  6. A sentence that further supports, illustrates, or discusses the third point or third answer.
  7. A concluding sentence that relates what your Sentence 2 thru Sentence 7 have to do with the Topic Sentence 1.
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