Institute History

  • 1995 June Screenwriters Lab


Orazio Gentileschi, the well-known painter, has a daughter, Artemisia. Little is known of Prudenza Montone, her mother, except that she died when Artemisia was still a child. Artemisia started to learn painting in Rome, in her father's studio.

Early in the year 1611, we find Orazio Gentileschi working with Agostino Tassi, a great innovator specializing in landscapes and a master of seascapes. Together, they are toiling on a fresco. While they paint, Orazio asks Agostino to teach Artemisia about art and the principles of perspective. Agostino consents, he will teach Artemisia about art, even though it is forbidden for women to take part in painting, especially of the nudes.

As the teacher/pupil relationship flourishes so does the personal relationship. Artemisia falls in love with Agostino and even though he knows that a relationship between the two will be considered perverse, he acts on Artemisia's attraction for him. Orazio soon learns of the affair and, through much browbeating, convinces his daughter that Agostino's love for her is perverse.

Orazio sues his friend Agostino. He accuses him of raping and molesting Artemisia. When the trial begins, endless accusations present themselves. Half-truths enter from all sides. Artemisia and Agostino defend their respective positions with such determination and bravura that they leave the judges with indecision. In an effort to reveal the truth, the judge submits Artemisa to brutal torture, breaking her gifted hands in front of Agostino. He will not confess to rape and she will not confess to loving him. The trial has no satisfying conclusion. Artemisia and Agostino, alone, share the truth of their affair. The passion that brought them together mocks them, splitting them apart.

Set in 17th century France during the Baroque Movement, ARTEMISIA explores a momentous clash of wills in the passionate world of painting.


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