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Artworks I Like, Weekly Photo Challenge

Weekly Photo Challenge: Masterpieces (2)

So this is Part 2 of the WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge ‘Masterpiece’. Part 1 can be viewed here

Responding to the prompt was not an easy task…. for starters what is “judged” as a “masterpiece” – AND as a consequence of that: what is with the gendered language!! Masterpiece is one of the few remaining words that has remained de-gendered.

HHmmm… what is ‘gendered language’ you ask?? Well, here are some examples (I’ll start with the big one):

mankind- humankind
craftsman – craftsperson
mailman – mail delivery person

the list continues- I’m sure you get the drift…

Why don’t we notice these words in everyday life you ask? And what is the big deal anyway?

Hmmm, I am glad you asked…

Lets look at the history of language – no this is not going to be a ranting history lesson, just a brief overview. I will include some links at the end of this post for anyone that wants to research this topic further 🙂

So…. ‘history of language’:invented by the guys with fire (coz the girls were busy feeding the kids)

Evolved to some storytelling via rock painting and sand painting, also by the guys coz the girls were busy feeding the kids

Fast forward a few hundred centuries, and the guys decided they could plant seeds, and therefore own/steal land – the girls were STILL busy feeding babies…

And then came the Renaissance – science and logic over religion, understanding and humanity, equality for all – ummm, if you were a male, or white, or upper middle class ; gee, funny thing that renaissance!!

So fast forward to now!! Given that we have had a crash course in ‘his’tory I guess you , the reader, may be wary of what I am going to post….do not be afeared!!

I am going to post an artist that I have admired since I first learnt of her decades ago: Artemisia Gentileschi. A painter strong and suffering women from myth and the Bible – victims, suicides, warriors – Artemisia’s works were until recently attributed to her father. It was not acceptable for women to paint during the 17th century, let alone be better at it than her peers! More info on Artemisia can be found here.

The work I have always loved of her’s is her interpretation of Judith Slaying Holofernes. I remember writing about this painting in an undergrad essay for art history about feminism in art.

And then I saw this work at the Uffizzi in Florence in real life, and I must say my heart skipped a beat, after loving this artist for so long – and the real life viewing did not let me down!!

So…. this is my masterpiece!!
























Further contributions to this WordPress weekly photo challenge can be viewed here:


9 thoughts on “Weekly Photo Challenge: Masterpieces (2)

  1. My psychologist wife who didn’t know the artist at the time (about 10 years ago), having seen this painting for the first time said that was a female artist who had been abused by a man close to her. This was when I realised that my wife’s A-levels were not given for nothing )

    Posted by artmoscow | August 1, 2013, 2:00 am
    • HHmmm…. she may well have been abused ( sexually) but we will probably never know that fact, however, given the time period she was certainly emotionally and psychologically abused – hence her not being known as an (female) artist till recently – but how different is this to today? Were the art academies the equivalent of company board rooms today!! Makes you wonder??

      Posted by Dawn Whitehand | August 1, 2013, 2:25 am
      • Artemisia Gentileschi was raped by her teacher Agostino Tassi; there are records for the high-profile trial.

        However, most historians today try not to characterize her work in terms of her being raped. Based on what we know about how artists selected subjects (Their patrons chose them) and the frequency of paintings of Judith slaying Holofernes (Very frequent! Caravaggio, Mantegna, and Rubens all depicted this subject, for example) it’s being omitted from art history texts as an influence on her work.

        I’ve written about this before if you want to check it out.

        Anyway, great post Dawn! If you’re interested in more female masters you might want to check out Sofonisba Anguissola or Lavinia Fontana.

        Posted by Melissa Huang | August 13, 2013, 5:59 am
      • Hi Melissa… thanks for your comment 🙂

        I first discovered Artemisia Gentileschi whilst writing a paper on women in art history during my undergrad days. At this time i read a much as possible about her and her artwork, and later saw a movie made about her life…. i can’t remember what it was called but it did deal with her being raped.

        But of course historians don’t want to include such details – they are, of course white middle class educated males (in the majority) so such details are ‘irrelevant’… or perhaps undermining….

        But on a happier note, it was amazing to see work of hers first hand.

        I will visit your writings and leave a comment 🙂

        thanks again

        Posted by Dawn Whitehand | August 15, 2013, 12:22 am
  2. Always loved this Judith and Holofernes painting also. I appropriated images of Judith in my early jewelry pieces, too – not surprised we both like this artist and the message of the piece!

    Posted by artdoesmatter | August 1, 2013, 6:37 am


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This work by Dawn Whitehand is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
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