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The Passion of Artemisia (Anglais) CD – janvier 2002


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--Ce texte fait référence à l'édition Broché.
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The Sibille

My father walked beside me to give me courage, his palm touching gently the back laces of my bodice. In the low-angled glare already baking the paving stones of the piazza and the top of my head, the still shadow of the Inquisitor's noose hanging above the Tor di Nona, the papal court, stretched grotesquely down the wall, its shape the outline of a tear.

"A brief unpleasantness, Artemisia," my father said, looking straight ahead. "Just a little squeezing."

He meant the sibille.

If, while my hands were bound, I gave again the same testimony as I had the previous weeks, they would know it was the truth and the trial would be over. Not my trial. I kept telling myself that: I was not on trial. Agostino Tassi was on trial.

The words of the indictment my father had sent to Pope Paul V rang in my ears: "Agostino Tassi deflowered my daughter Artemisia and did carnal actions by force many times, acts that brought grave and enormous damage to me, Orazio Gentileschi, painter and citizen of Rome, the poor plaintiff, so that I could not sell her painting talent for so high a price."

I hadn't wanted anyone to know. I wasn't even going to tell him, but he heard me crying once and forced it out of me. There was that missing painting, too, one Agostino had admired, and so he charged him.

"How much squeezing?" I asked.

"It will be over quickly."

I didn't look at any faces in the crowd gathering at the entrance to the Tor. I already knew what they'd show-lewd curiosity, accusation, contempt. Instead, I looked at the yellow honeysuckle blooming against stucco walls the color of Roman ochre. Each color made the other more vibrant. Papa had taught me that.

"Fragrant blossoms," beggars cried, offering them to women coming to hear the proceedings in the musty courtroom. Anything for a giulio. A cripple thrust into my hand a wilted bloom, rank with urine. He knew I was Artemisia Gentileschi. I dropped it on his misshapen knee.

My dry throat tightened as we entered the dark, humid Sala del Tribunale. Leaving Papa at the front row of benches, I stepped up two steps and took my usual seat opposite Agostino Tassi, my father's friend and collaborator. My rapist. Leaning on his elbow, he didn't move when I sat down. His black hair and beard were overgrown and wild. His face, more handsome than he deserved, had the color and hardness of a bronze sculpture.

Behind a table, the papal notary, a small man swathed in deep purple, was sharpening his quills with a knife, letting the shavings fall to the floor. A dusty beam of light from a high window fell on his hands and lightened the folds of his sleeve to lavender. "Fourteen, May, 1612," the notary muttered as he wrote. Two months, and this was the first day he didn't have a bored look on his face. The day I would be vindicated. I pressed my hands tight against my ribs.

The Illustrious Lord Hieronimo Felicio, Locumtenente of Rome appointed as judge and interrogator by His Holiness, swept in and sat on a raised chair, arranging his scarlet robes to be more voluminous. Papal functionaries were always posturing in public. Under his silk skull cap, his jowls sagged like overripe fruit. He was followed by a huge man with a shaved head whose shoulders bulged out of his sleeveless leather tunic-the Assistente di Tortura. A hot wave of fear rushed through me. With a flick of a finger the Lord High Locumtenente ordered him to draw a sheer curtain across the room separating us from Papa and the rabble crowded on benches on the other side. The curtain hadn't been there before.

The Locumtenente scowled and his fierce black eyebrows joined, making a shadow. "You understand, Signorina Gentileschi, our purpose." His voice was slick as linseed oil. "The Delphic sybils always told the truth."

I remembered the Delphic sibyl on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. Michelangelo portrayed her as a powerful woman alarmed by what she sees. Papa and I had stood under it in silent awe, squeezing each other's hands to contain our excitement. Maybe the sibille would only squeeze as hard as that.

"Likewise, the sibille is merely an instrument designed to bring truth to women's lips. We will see whether you persist in what you have testified." He squinted his goat's eyes. "I wonder what tightening the cords might do to a painter's ability to hold a brush-properly." My stomach cramped. The Locumtenente turned to Agostino. "You are a painter too, Signor Tassi. Do you know what the sibille can do to a young girl's fingers?"

Agostino didn't even blink.

My fingers curled into fists. "What can it do? Tell me."

The Assistente forced my hands flat and wound a long cord around the base of each finger, then tied my hands palm to palm at my wrists and ran the cord around each pair of fingers like a vine. He attached a monstrous wooden screw and turned it just enough for the cords to squeeze a little.

"What can it do?" I cried. I looked for Papa through the curtain. He was leaning forward pulling at his beard.

"Nothing," the Locumtenente said. "It can do nothing, if you tell the truth."

"It can't cut off my fingers, can it?"

"That, signorina, is up to you."

My fingers began to throb slightly. I looked at Papa. He gave me a reassuring nod.

"Tell us now, for I'm sure you see reason, have you had sexual relations with Geronimo the Modenese?"

"I don't know anyone by that name."

"With Pasquino Fiorentino?"

"I don't know him either."

"With Francesco Scarpellino?"

"The name means nothing to me."

"With the cleric Artigenio?"

"I tell you, no. I don't know these men."

"That's a lie. She lies. She wants to discredit me to take my commissions," Agostino said.

"She's an insatiable whore."

I couldn't believe my ears.

"No," Papa bellowed. "He's trying to pass her off as a whore to avoid the nozze di riparazione. He wants to ruin the Gentileschi name. He's jealous."

The Locumtenente ignored Papa and curled back his lip. "Have you had sexual relations with your father, Orazio Gentileschi?"

"I would spit if you had said that outside this courtroom," I whispered.

"Tighten it!" the Locumtenente ordered.

The hideous screw creaked. I sucked in my breath. Rough cords scraped across the base of my fingers, burning. Murmurs beyond the curtain roared in my ears.

"Signorina Gentileschi, how old are you?"

"Eighteen."

"Eighteen. Not so young that you don't know you should not offend your interrogator. Let us resume. Have you had sexual relations with an orderly to Our Holy Father, the late Cosimo Quorli?"

"He . . . he tried, Your Excellency. Agostino Tassi brought him into the house. I fought him away. They had both been hounding me. Giving me lewd looks. Whispering suggestions."

"For how long?"

"Many months. A year. I was barely seventeen when it started."

"What kind of suggestions?"

"I don't like to say." The Locumtenente flashed a look at the Assistente, who moved toward me. "Suggestions of my hidden beauty. Cosimo Quorli threatened to boast about having me if I didn't submit."

"And did you submit?"

"No."

"This same Cosimo Quorli reported to other orderlies of the Palazzo Apostolico that he was, in truth, your father, that your mother, Prudenzia Montone, had frequently encouraged him to visit her privately, whereupon she conceived." He paused and scrutinized my face.

"You must admit you do have a resemblance. Has he, on any occasion, ever revealed this to you?"

"The claim is ludicrous. I must now defend my mother's honor as well as mine against this mockery?"

It seemed enough to him that he had planted the idea. He cleared his throat and pretended to read some document.

"Did you not, on repeated occasions, engage in sexual relations willingly with Agostino Tassi?"

The room closed in. I held my breath.

The Assistente turned the screw.

I tightened all my muscles against it. The cords bit into my flesh. Rings of fire. Blood oozed between them in two places, three, all over. How could Papa let them? He didn't tell me there would be blood. I sucked in air through my teeth. This was Agostino's trial, not mine. How to make it stop? The truth.

"Not willingly. Agostino Tassi dishonored me. He raped me and violated my virginity."

"When did this occur?"

"Last year. Just after Easter."

"If a woman is raped, she must have done something to invite it. What were you doing?"

"Painting! In my bedchamber." I squeezed shut my eyes to get out the words. "I was painting our housekeeper, Tuzia, and her baby as the Madonna and Child. She let him in. My father was away. She knew Agostino. He was my father's friend. My father hired him to teach me perspective."

"Why did you not cry out?"

"I couldn't. He held a handkerchief over my mouth."

"Did you not try to stop him?"

"I pulled his hair and scratched his face and . . . his member. I even threw a dagger at him."

"A virtuous woman keeps a dagger in her bedchamber?"

My head was about to split. "A threatened woman does."

"And after that occasion?"

"He came again, let in by Tuzia. He pushed himself on me . . . and in me." Sweat trickled between my breasts.

"Did you resist?"

"I scratched and pushed him."

"Did you always resist?"

I searched Agostino's face. Immovable as a painting. "Say something." Only two months ago he had said he loved me. "Agostino," I pleaded. "Don't let them do this."

He looked down and dug dirt from his fingernails.

The Locumtenente turned to Agostino. "Do you wish to amend your claim of innocence?"

Agostino's strong-featured face turned cold and ugly. I didn't want to beg. Not him. Santa Maria, I prayed, don't let me beg him.

"No," he said. "She's a whore just like her mother."

"She thought she was betrothed!" Papa bellowed from beyond the curtain. "It was understood. He would marry her. A proper nozze di riparazione."

The Locumtenente leaned toward me. "You haven't answered the question, signora. The sibille can be made to cut off a finger."

"It's Agostino who's on trial, not I. Let him be subjected to the sibille."

"Tighten!"

Madre di Dio, let me faint before I scream. Blood streamed. My new white sleeve was soaked in red. Papa, make them stop. What was I to do? Tell them what they want? Lie? Say I'm a whore? That would only set Agostino free. Another turn. "Oh oh oh oh stop!" Was I screaming?

"For the love of God, stop!" Papa shouted and stood up.

The Locumtenente snapped his fingers to have him gagged. "God loves those, Signor Gentileschi, who tell the truth." He leered at me. "Now tell me, and tell me truthfully, signorina, after the first time did you always resist?"

The room blurred. The world swirled out of control. The screw, my hands-there was nothing else. Pain so wicked I-I-Che Dio mi salvi-would the cords touch bone?-Che Santa Maria mi salvi-Gesu-Madre di Dio-make it stop. I had to tell.

"I tried to, but in the end, no. He promised he would marry me, and I . . . I believed him." Dio mi salvi, stop it stop it stop it. "So I allowed him . . . against my desires . . . so he would keep his promise. What else could I do?"

My breath. I couldn't get my breath.

"Enough. Adjourned until tomorrow." He waved his hand in disgust and triumph. "All parties to be present."

The sibille was loosened and removed.

Rage hissed through me. My hands trembled, and shook blood onto my skirt. Agostino lurched toward me, but the guards grabbed him to take him away. I wanted to wait until the crowd left, but a guard pushed me out with everyone else and I had to walk through hoots and jeers with bleeding hands. In the glare of the street, I felt something thrown at my back. I didn't turn around to see what it was. Beside me, Papa offered me his handkerchief.

"I'd rather bleed."

"Artemisia, take this."

"You didn't tell me what the sibille could do." I passed him, and walked faster than he could. At home I shoved my clothing cassapanca behind my chamber door with my knees, and flung myself onto my bed and cried.

How could he have let this happen? How could he be so selfish? My dearest papa. All those happy times on the Via Appia-picnics with Mama listening for doves and Papa gathering sage to scrub into the floor. Papa wrapping his feet and mine in scrubbing cloths soaked in sage water, sliding to the rhythm of his love songs, his voice warbling on the high notes, waving his arms like a cypress in the wind until I laughed. That was my papa.

Was.

And all his stories about great paintings-sitting on my bed, letting me snuggle in his arms, slipping me some candied orange rind. Wonderful stories. Rebekah at the well at Nahor, her skin so clear that when she raised her chin to drink, you could see the water flowing down her throat. Cleopatra floating the Nile on a barge piled with fruit and flowers. Dana‘ and the golden shower, Bathsheba, Judith, sibyls, muses, saints-he made them all real. He had made me want to be a painter, let me trace the drawings in his great leather-bound Iconologia, taught me how to hold a brush when I was five, how to grind pigments and mix colors when I was ten. He gave me my very own grinding muller and marble slab. He gave me my life.

What if I could never paint again with these hands? What was the use in living then? The dagger was still under the bed. I didn't have to live if the world became too cruel.

But there was my Judith to paint-if I could. More than ever I wanted to do that now.

Papa rattled the door. "Artemisia, let me in."

"I don't want to talk to you. You knew what the sibille could do."

"I didn't think-"

"S“, eh. You didn't think."

He wedged the door open and pushed the trunk out of the way. He brought in a bowl of water and cloths to clean my hands. I rolled away from him.

"Artemisia, permit me."

"If Mama were still here she wouldn't have let you allow it."

"I didn't realize. I-"

"She wouldn't have wanted it public, like I didn't."

"In time, Artemisia, it won't matter."

"When a woman's name is all she has, it matters."

--Ce texte fait référence à l'édition Broché .

Revue de presse

"A privileged glimpse into an extraordinary woman's soul."—Margaret George

"Lovely."—The Atlantic Monthly

"Susan Vreeland set a high standard with Girl in Hyacinth Blue.... The Passion of Artemisia is even better.... Vreeland's unsentimental prose turns the factual Artemisia into a fictional heroine you won't soon forget." —People

"Vreeland has burrowed deeply into the mind of the artist and produced a vivid cast of female characters." —Vogue 

"Vreeland's remarkable ability to portray with lyricism and intelligence the life of the artist both at its most practical and most sublime makes this novel an accomplished work of art." —San Francisco Chronicle

--Ce texte fait référence à l'édition Broché .

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Commentaires client les plus utiles sur Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: HASH(0x8eac9df8) étoiles sur 5 157 commentaires
68 internautes sur 71 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
HASH(0x8e9a8b34) étoiles sur 5 Wonderful Artistic Journey 18 janvier 2002
Par Sheri Melnick - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Relié
As the best-selling author of GIRL IN HYACINTH BLUE, Susan Vreeland once again stuns readers with a lyrical depiction of a woman destined to follow her artistic dreams. As an early seventeenth century artist under the tutelage of her artist father, Orazio Gentileschi, Artemisia experiences tremendous humiliation as she faces her rapist in papal court. Though Agostino Tassi, a colleague of Orazio�s, had raped Artemisia, she is forced to endure a degrading public examination to prove her accusations. With her ruined reputation, Artemisia leaves Rome to wed Pietro Stiattesi and move to Florence.
Together, Pietro and Artemisia indulge in the art of painting, but unfortunately for Pietro, it is Artemisia who gets the most recognition, first with a commission from the nephew of the famous Michelangelo, and later from Cosimo de Medici. Though Artemisia and Pietro have a daughter, Palmira, Pietro becomes resentful when Artemisia gains admission to the Accademia dell� Arte del Disegno before he does.
The all-encompassing descriptive prose leads the reader back into seventeenth century Italy, following Artemisia and her daughter as they journey to Genoa, Venice, and come full circle back to Rome. With the incredible artistic backdrop of the timeless treasures of these cities, the author often makes a religious connection to the magnificent works depicted there.
And for anyone who ever wanted an eyewitness view into an artist�s soul, this novel is the perfect venue. Even a non-artist can begin to understand the depth of emotion and lifetime experiences that go into an artist�s creativity. Most enduring though, is Artemisia�s triumph in a time when women were treated in a most inferior manner.
33 internautes sur 33 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
HASH(0x8e9a8b88) étoiles sur 5 A Masterpiece 15 août 2002
Par Diane - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Relié
I had never heard of Artemisia Gentileschi until I opened this book. I realize that it is a fictitious account of her life, but it made for an interesting read.
Set in the 17th century, the story opens with Artemisia having been raped by her father's assistant, Agostino Tassi. Her father has accused him of this rape and sets into motion a trial that will continue to haunt Artemisia for the rest of her days. The rapist is released and Artemisia, her reputation ruined, is forced into an arranged marriage.
She begins to paint her collection, most notably her "Judith" collection. Her art becomes famous with the most renowned people of her day. She portrays the women in her paintings as strong and independent, retribution being the key. I found Vreeland's account of how the paintings came about and why to be extremely interesting. Artemisia soon becomes the first woman to be accepted into the Academy of Sciences in Florence and this causes a rift in her marriage.
The people along the way are also wonderful characters brought to life, especially Graziela who is wise beyond her years and helps to put things into perspective for Artemisia. Her passion for painting brought her the utmost joy and pain. A lesson not lost on Artemisia.
I was so fascinated by Artemisia's story that I looked on the internet for her paintings and was not disappointed. I discovered a few inconsistencies in the story and the real life of this painter, but overall I think the book is worth the read.
Another book similar in theme to this one is Girl with a Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier.
28 internautes sur 28 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
HASH(0x8e9a8fc0) étoiles sur 5 Another Look At the Power of Art 19 mars 2002
Par Amazon Customer - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Relié
In "The Passion of Artemisia," Susan Vreeland does a great job providing her readers with details of seventeenth century Italy. Her descriptions of food (dates, almonds, pear wedges, bread, olive oil, saffron, antipasti), clothes (gowns, quilted doublets, embroidered bodices), and Italy itself (Rome, Florence, Genoa, and Naples) are wonderful. I could not get enough of the twisted alleyways, the villas, the references to historical characters (Galileo, Cosimo de' Medici II), and of course the paintings. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for the story itself. Told in the first person narrative, Artemisia is a somewhat flat character -- Susan Vreeland is unable to convey the passion and courage that drove Artemisia to pursue her dream of becoming a famous painter.
"Girl In Hyacinth Blue" sparkled. It was clever, intelligent -- a little gem. "The Passion of Artemisia," on the other hand, is entertaining (the Italian words scattered throughout the novel were just plain fun: bene, brava, tesoro, poverina, la dolce vita). It depicts details from seventeenth century Italy marvelously (the reason for the three star rating), but ultimately, it does not deliver the dramatic tale about a woman who ignored the social mores of her time.
If you enjoy fiction published about art, history, and the lives of women consider reading: "Tulip Fever" by Deborah Moggach and "Girl With A Pearl Earring" by Tracy Chevalier.
27 internautes sur 27 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
HASH(0x8e9af3a8) étoiles sur 5 Betrayed! 8 février 2004
Par Un client - Publié sur Amazon.com
Achat vérifié
This book may be fascinating, but is it not nearly as fascinating as the real story. I thought Vreeland gave us a rather flimsy tale, and decided to give a more scholarly work a try. And after all, what can one expect without historical records of the time? Well, turns out one can expect a lot, and there were a lot of records. What they tell is a very different story from that Vreeland gives us. In fact, her version omits many astonishing details, and really misrepresents Artemisia's life for cliches and trite dramatic purposes. The real story -- skillfully presented by Alexandra Lapierre (translated by Liz Heron) in Artemisia: A Novel -- does our Artemisia justice.
What I can't figure out is why would someone take a really rich and lively story and water it down for a series of vignettes, when the true story is one ripping read? Although Lapierre entitles her work "A Novel", she refers to her primary sources -- and she expounds on the manners of the day -- to make a vibrant portrait. I felt more than disappointed by this version when I read Lapierre's - I felt betrayed. This is one author who will not get a second chance.
41 internautes sur 47 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
HASH(0x8e9af408) étoiles sur 5 Fascinating Subject, Poor Writing 1 mars 2002
Par Un client - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Relié
I bought this book believing I would really, really love it. I love art, I love Italy, so...what was there not to love?
The Passion of Artemisia is the story of Artemisia Gentileschi, born in Rome in 1593. After the death of her mother, Artemisia was raised by her father, who was himself, an artist. Vreeland tells us that the book is, for the most part, historically accurate, and I have no reason to doubt her veracity. However, the historical portions, the descriptions of the art and the cities, etc., make up the only interesting parts of the book.
When the book opens, Artemisia is a girl of eighteen who stands at the center of a rape trial. Artemisia wants to see justice done, but her father has other ideas and other things on his mind and Artemisia is left ruined and unmarriageable.
Although unmarriageable, Artemisia does wed and only about a year later as well. The union is a relatively happy and peaceful one and her husband, also a painter, takes her to his native Florence where they both pursue their vocation until Artemisia gives birth to a daughter.
When Artemisia clearly proves to be the superior painter, her harmonious relationship she has enjoyed with her husband ends and she eventually leaves him, taking their daughter with her. She travels first to Genoa, then to Rome, then to Naples. She is determined to support both herself and her child as a painter, no matter how much society is against the idea.
Artemisia Gentileschi was a fascinating woman. She was the first woman admitted to the Florentine Academy, she was a woman who lived apart from her husband at a time when living apart from one's husband was virtually unknown. She moved in the same social circles as the Medicis and the other families of the Italian nobility. Artemisia was, as the title of the book, suggests, a passionate woman. So, what is the problem here?
The problem with this book is twofold. First, the character of Artemisia, as painted by Vreeland, is both dull and flat. Instead of giving us a fascinating character, Vreeland seems to be using Artemisia as a vehicle through which to give us her views of the issues of Renaissance Italy. Artemisia "talks" at length about science, art, religion and politics, but her views are not those of a passionate artist, they are the views of someone totally detached from the day-to-day life of the times. Unfortunately, we learn nothing about Artemisia's passion for her art, for her husband, for her child, for her homeland. This is the story of a cold and cerebral woman, not a passionate, life-affirming one. It is only when Artemisia is analyzing the painting of others that she becomes in the least bit interesting as a human being.
The second thing wrong with this book is the poor quality of the writing. The narrative prose is just awful. It is a mystery to me why Vreeland wrote this way and even more of a mystery as to why her editor (or even a first reader) didn't catch (and fix) the problems. Wherever the fault lies, there is simply no excuse to foist bad narrative prose on the book-buying public. It is really unforgiveable.

Artemisia Gentileschi was a fascinating and passionate woman. She certainly deserved better than this.
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