The Ecstasy of Blessed Ludovica Albertoni by Gian Lorenzo Bernini was executed between the years 1671 to 1674, it was one of his last sculptures. It was installed in the Church of San Francesco a Ripa in Rome on August 31, 1674, where it can currently be visited.
The figure of Ludovica appears reclining, in a moment of mystical communion with God. The folds of his habit, his head tilted back on pillows and the gesture on his face express a state of great embarrassment. The figure sits on its sarcophagus.
The Baroque style used contrast, movement, exuberant detail, deep colour, grandeur and surprise to achieve a sense of awe. Baroque painters used intense and warm colours, and particularly made use of the primary colours red, blue and yellow, frequently putting all three in close proximity.
She was an Italian Baroque painter, today considered one of the most accomplished painters following the death of Caravaggio. In an era when female painters were not easily accepted by the artistic community or patrons, she was the first woman to become a member of the Accademia di Arte del Disegno in Florence and had an international clientele.
She specialized in painting pictures of strong and suffering women from myths, allegories, and the Bible—victims, suicides, warriors.
She was known for being able to convincingly depict the female figure, anywhere between nude and fully clothed. Artemisia was also famous for her skill and talent in handling color, both overall in the composition but also in building depth.
That she was a woman painting in the seventeenth century and that she was raped as a young woman by Agostino Tassi and participated in the prosecution of her rapist long overshadowed her achievements as an artist. For many years she was regarded as a curiosity. Today she is regarded as one of the most progressive and expressive painters of her generation.
Her father, Orazio, hired the painter Agostino Tassi to tutor his daughter privately. During this tutelage, Tassi raped Artemisia. After the rape, Artemisia continued to have sexual relations with Tassi, with the expectation that they were going to be married and with the hope to restore her dignity and her future.
When he did not fulfill his promise to marry her, Orazio Gentileschi brought him to trialing 1612. At the end of the trial Tassi was exiled from Rome, although the sentence was never carried out. Artemisia was tortured with thumbscrews at the trial, with the intention of verifying her testimony.
Shortly after the trial she married Pierantonio Stiattesi with whom she had a daughter, and in 1616 she joined Florence’s Academy of Design, the first woman to do so. Unlike many other women artists of the 17th century, she specialized in history painting rather than still life and portraiture. In Florence she was associated with the Medici court and painted an Allegory of Inclination (c. 1616) for the series of frescoes honouring the life of Michelangelo in the Casa Buonarotti.
About 1630 she moved to Naples, and in 1638 she arrived in London, where she worked alongside her father for King Charles I. They collaborated on the ceiling paintings of the Great Hall in the Queen’s House in Greenwich.
Some have speculated that she died in the devastating plague that swept Naples in 1656.