Artemisia Gentileschi was a highly skilled portrait painter who famously mastered the female form to a higher level than had really been seen before. Despite this, she all portrayed men as well fairly successfully. Woman Playing a Lute is a lesser known piece from her career, and although we do not know its current location, some details about it still remain.
The artist was also knowledgeable on cultural pursuits such as music and may even have been able to play the lute featured within this painting. This type of instrument appears again in other scenes from her career, as well as many other artists' during the Baroque period.
The title of this painting is fairly self-explanatory, with a female figure placed in front of us, playing a lute. She appears unaware of our presence, but is brought forward towards us, helping to enlarge her image and offer more details close up.
The female figure is dressed in a dark blue outfit with red sleeves and a white undergarment. Artemisia Gentileschi, the creator of this painting, was trained in music herself, and appreciated all aspects of culture, far besides just the visual arts. Indeed, she would feature herself playing the lute in one of her most famous paintings.
The light is carefully controlled within this painting and appears to be directed from above. It beams down on the musician's face, as well as her hands and chest. The background is left darkened and plain, as was the common method for this artist.
The lute player's hair is smartly presented, with curls and some items of jewellery attached. Her fingers are accurately represented as if a genuine lute player, and perhaps the artist had actually mastered this instrument herself during her younger years.
On reflection and analysis, this portrait does not appear to hold any symbolic meaning or reference, but merely is an enjoyable piece which celebrates the combination of art and music. Artemisia would work to commission sometimes, and on other occasions she would produce work with the intention of finding a buyer later on.
Size, Medium and Location
The exact whereabouts of this painting is currently unknown. It is 78cm in width and 64cm in height and was produced using oil on canvas. It is likely that with the rising popularity of this artist, the artwork will eventually be re-discovered and documented in greater detail. At the size mentioned, it may have been a private commission, and would clearly not have been one of her commissions for religious institutions.
Other Paintings of Lute Players
Art history features many lute players as inspiration, with some of the most famous examples besides the work of Artemisia Gentileschi including the likes of Musicians by Caravaggio, Woman with a Lute by Vermeer and also Winged Man Playing Lute by Albrecht Durer. For modern day art enthusiasts, there is something charming, almost medieval about this particular musical instrument and it helps to create an atmosphere of that period within our own minds.
Large Image of Woman Playing a Lute
Find a larger image of the original work below, offering more detail such as on on the model's facial features and also their clothing. This piece is a fine addition to the oeuvre of this artist, and is consistent with her approach, in terms of both style and content.
Woman Playing a Lute