Artemisia Gentileschi (July 8, 1593–c.1656) was an Italian Baroque painter, today considered one of the most accomplished painters in the generation after Caravaggio. In an era when female painters were not easily accepted by the artistic community or patrons, she was the first female painter to become a member of the Accademia di Arte del Disegno in Florence.
She painted many pictures of strong and suffering women from myth and the Bible – victims, suicides, warriors – and made a speciality of the Judith story. Her best-known image, Judith Beheading Holofernes shows the decapitation of Holofernes, a scene of horrific struggle and blood-letting. That she was a woman painting in the 17th century and that she was raped herself and participated in prosecuting the 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 expressionist painters of her generation.