Self-Portrait as the Allegory of Painting by Artemisia Gentileschi


Who is this woman in the green effervescent

gown with the plunging neckline so fashionable

in the baroque period, who paints herself

and women from mythology and the Bible.

She leans at an angle as if off-balanced

like “dancing backwards in high heels.”

At a time when women were not allowed to be

artists, her portrait looks to be a Caravaggio

or so the critics claim (for she is compared

to the prominent men artists of the times).

Her story goes, she was raped at a young age by

her teacher and to ensure the truth of her testimony 

put in thumbscrews, tortured to obtain the truth

(and we all know how that worked with detainees).

She was never quite the same afterwards:

her work, full of women in the act of revenge

her name, not one well-recognized.