#MeToo With The Early Moderns

Hum 212 studies the art of Artemisia Gentileschi, who took on the patriarchy in the 17th century.

By Prof. Dana E. Katz | June 1, 2020

The Baroque artist Artemisia Gentileschi (seen here in Self-Portrait as the Allegory of Painting, which students in Hum 212 will examine this spring) acquired fame in her own time, and in ours.

Trained in Rome by her father, Orazio Gentileschi, Artemisia excelled at dramatic narrative painting, particularly depictions of women heroines and female nudes. Painter to sacred and secular leaders, Artemisia would become the first woman admitted to Florence’s famed Accademia del Disegno, thus gaining her access to the art institutions traditionally forbidden to women.

Recently, Artemisia’s biography and her powerful heroines have found deep resonance with the #MeToo movement. In 1611, Agostino Tassi, a painter in Orazio’s circle, raped Artemisia. Orazio brought charges against Tassi, who was found guilty. As many #MeToo bloggers have remarked, Artemisia is an exceptional woman for her era in that she survived not only the violence of sexual assault but also the gender discrimination of the early modern patriarchy.


Dana E. Katz is the Joshua C. Taylor Professor of Art History and Humanities at Reed College. She teaches courses on Renaissance art, architecture, and material culture; early modern culture in Europe, the Americas, and the Muslim Mediterranean; and art historical methodologies. Her research explores representations of religious difference in the art and culture of early modern Italy. In particular, she studies the relations and negotiations between Jewish cultural history and the visual culture of the Italian Renaissance. A recipient of fellowships from the Fulbright Foundation, Samuel H. Kress Foundation, Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundations, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and Renaissance Society of America, Katz is the author of The Jew in the Art of the Italian Renaissance and The Jewish Ghetto and the Visual Imagination of Early Modern Venice. Her new book project redirects her study of religious difference to Islam in order to rethink how the heterogeneous Muslim worlds correlated with the Christian worlds of early modern Europe. In this project, Katz examines how material culture in the West pluralized the idea of Islam.

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