Life and Art of Artemisia Gentileschi > Jael and Sisera > Next Painting

Jael and Sisera.


Oil on canvas.

0.923m by 1.275m

Szepmuveszeti Museum, Budapest.

The Painting.

Artemisia chose another biblical theme picturing a woman slaying an aggressor. Sisera was a cruel Canaanite leader who ruled the Israelites for twenty years. Barak defeated his nine hundred charioteers by a surprise Israelite attack. Sisera escaped and sought refuge in the tent of Jael, wife of Heber the Kenite. She gave the terrified Canaanite sanctuary. When he fell asleep, she drove a tent peg into his brain. The act fulfilled the prediction of Debora, prophetess and Israelite leader, who foresaw that a woman would slay Sisera.

Sisera's face has an uncanny resemblance to Caravaggio, who had died in 1610. Is this the end of her fallen idol? Caravaggio himself was often in trouble with the law because of his quick temper. He had killed an officer in a duel in Rome, escaped justice, fled to Malta, and was later jailed for assaulting a Knight of Malta. Is she declaring that she is superior to the man who so influenced her style, the man who was the long-time leader of Roman art? Or is this really Tassi, the perpetrator of her rape?

The Artist's Life.

About this time, Artemisia moved to the wealthy city of Genoa for a short time and apparently painted with her father. Several patrons increased her financial security. She and the Dutch painter Van Dyck may have exerted mutual influence on each other's technique.

[ Artemisia Forum ] [ Email your comments. ] [ Sign the guestbook ] [ Site map ]

Website creation, design, and maintenance by Larry Brash. © 1999-2014.