Artemisia HC
Publisher: Beehive Books
Release Date: August 4, 2021
Price: $25.00
Creator(s): Nathalie Ferlut (writer); Tamia Baudoin (artist)
Format: 100 pgs., Full-Color, 7.6" x 10.1", Hardcover
ISBN: 978-1-9488-8611-6
Age Rating: 16+
ICv2 Rating: 3.5 Stars out of 5

For many readers, the artist whose story is told in this graphic work will come as a surprise.  In the Renaissance, most of the "remembered" artists were men, partly because only men were allowed in many of the art organizations, or in some cases, even allowed to buy paint.  There were a few major female artists, though, and Artemisia deserves to be remembered.

Luckily, this book includes reproductions of a few of her pieces, including her two "Judith" paintings that have a telling detail, with a character in them that was a critical, if negative, part of her life.  It may have been cathartic to "kill off" someone like that in a piece of art, or there may have been more to it.  It’s a bit late to ask a 17th century artist to explain things in modern psychological terms.

Unluckily, the artist for the graphic storytelling in the book is so jarringly different in style and tone that the artwork is sometimes distracting.  It is important to the story that Artemisia was physically attractive, and the self-portrait included in the book shows that, but in the graphic story, not so much.  The predatory artist and teacher Tassi is often drawn in an almost cartoony fashion that belies the level of creep that he was.

Still, this is an important book to add to any collection of graphic works about artists, or about women’s history.  At the very least, it shows the determination and strength of one of the greatest female artists of the Renaissance.

--Nick Smith: Library Technician, Community Services, for the Pasadena Public Library in California.