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The Passion of Artemisiaby Susan Vreeland
Synopses & Reviews
In her luminous debut novel, Susan Vreeland told the story of a Vermeer painting that transformed the lives of its many owners with its beauty. Now, in her stunning new novel, she tells the story of a painter who transformed Renaissance Italy with the beauty of her work. The Passion of Artemisia chronicles the extraordinary life of Artemisia Gentileschi, the first woman to make a significant contribution to art history.
At age eighteen, Artemisia Gentileschi finds herself humiliated in papal court for publicly accusing the man who raped her-Agostino Tassi, her painting teacher. When even her father does not stand up for her, she knows she cannot stay in Rome and begs to have a marriage arranged for her. Her new husband, an artist named Pietro Stiatessi, takes her to his native Florence, where her talent for painting blossoms and she becomes the first woman to be elected to the Accademia dell'Arte. But marriage clashes with Artemisia's newfound fame as a painter, and she begins a lifelong search to reconcile painting and motherhood, passion and genius.
Set against the glorious backdrops of Rome, Florence, and Genoa, peopled with historical characters such as Cosimo de' Medici and Galileo and filled with the details of the life of a Renaissance painter, The Passion of Artemisia is the story of Gentileschi's struggle to find love, forgiveness, and wholeness through her art. At once a dramatic tale of love and a moving father-daughter story, it is the portrait of an astonishing woman that will captivate lovers of Gentileschi's paintings and anyone interested in the life of a woman who ignored the conventions of her day and dared to follow her heart.
"Details and visuals abound in the book; readers who loved the painterly descriptions of Girl will be spellbound in particular by the scenes in which Artemisia is shown at work....Forthright and imaginative, Vreeland's deft recreation ably showcases art and life." Publishers Weekly
"Vreeland has burrowed deeply into the mind of the artist and produced a vivid cast of female characters." Vogue
"Vreeland's remarkable ability to portray with lyricism and intelligence the life of the artist both at its most practical and most sublime makes this novel an accomplished work of art." San Francisco Chronicle
"After her brilliant Girl in Hyacinth Blue, Vreeland shows a deep knowledge of art once more but also veers toward message and melodrama." Kirkus Reviews
"Vreeland skillfully captures the detail of the paintings and of Artemisia's joy in creating beauty. Few writers can convey the visual arts as vividly." Library Journal
"The Passion of Artemisia is both an entertaining and thought-provoking portrait of this admirable pioneering spirit. Susan Vreeland has a natural sympathy for her subject and is adept at portraying human bonds strained by artistic demands. The novel sparkles without being shallow, portrays shadows without being melancholy, and gives us a privileged glimpse into an extraordinary woman's soul." Margartet George
From the bestselling author of Girl in Hyacinth Blue comes an exquisite portrait of the life of one of the most remarkable female painters in history.
Recently rediscovered by art historians, and one of the few female post-Renaissance painters to achieve fame during her own era, Artemisia Gentileschi led a remarkably "modern" life. Susan Vreeland tells Artemisia's captivating story, beginning with her public humiliation in a rape trial at the age of eighteen, and continuing through her father's betrayal, her marriage of convenience, motherhood, and growing fame as an artist. Set against the glorious backdrops of Rome, Florence, Genoa, and Naples, inhabited by historical characters such as Galileo and Cosimo de' Medici II, and filled with rich details about life as a seventeenth-century painter, Vreeland creates an inspiring story about one woman's lifelong struggle to reconcile career and family, passion and genius.
Vreeland's novel "The Girl in Hyacinth Blue" traced a Vermeer painting through its owners, and her follow-up is also a moving celebration of the power of art. She presents a fictionalized version of the life of Artemisia Gentileschi, known for her contributions to Renaissance art and for the rape she suffered at the hands of her father's painting partner.
About the Author
Susan Vreeland's short fiction has appeared in journals such as The Missouri Review, New England Review, and Alaska Quarterly Review.
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