Urban Cinefile  
 The World of Film in Australia - on the Internet Updated Tuesday July 28, 2020 


Italy, 1610. Artemisia (Valentina Cervi) is seventeen years old and has inherited her well-known painter-father Orazio’s (Michel Serrault) talent and passion for painting. But painting is forbidden for women, who are not able to attend art classes, nor have male models to pose nude. Artemisia gets her father to agree for the famous painter Agostino Tassi (Miki Manojlovic) to give her lessons and teach her technique of perspective. Agostino and Artemisia fall in love - Agostino is captivated by her youth, beauty and talent, while she is fascinated by him. But Orazio, who is devastated by what has happened, wants to uphold his daughter’s name, and wants revenge. Artemisia breaks with her family and eventually attains tragic fame and in due course, becomes a painter.

"As exquisite as a beautiful painting, Artemisia may not translate as historic fact, but it’s a seductive film, gloriously shot with a compelling performance by the dazzling Valentina Cervi. Agnès Merlet convincingly depicts the conservative essence of the seventeenth century, whose repressive society is at odds with its immorality. As in Yentl, where women were not allowed to read books, here it is forbidden for women to paint or draw, let alone sketch male genitalia. And there lies Artemisia’s obsession. Interesting to observe how the art of the day is portrayed: it is fascinating to glimpse a behind-the-scenes approach to the painting of frescos, and observe the introduction of the use of a frame for painting out of doors. But you don’t have to know anything about art to enjoy Artemisia. Evoking the senses of touch, sight and sound, the mood is sensual, the topic passionate. While naked bodies are mostly portrayed for the sake of art, the love scenes are intricate and erotic. The events in the courtroom during the rape-trial are somewhat melodramatic although the scene where nuns examine Artemisia, to ascertain her purity, is nothing short of shocking. Supported by a solid cast of veterans like Michel Serrault and Miki Manojlovic, Cervi is showcased to perfection. Shot in stunning locations with a lyrical score effecting vivacity and movement, Artemisia is a poetic and enchanting portrayal of 17th century artistic life."
Louise Keller

Email this article

Favourable: 1
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 0


CAST: Valentina Cervi, Michel Serrault, Miki Manojlovic

DIRECTOR: Agnès Merlet

PRODUCER: Patrice Haddad, Leo Pescarolo, Christoph Meyer-Wiel

SCRIPT: Agnès Merlet, Patrick Amos, Christine Miller


MUSIC: Krishna Levy


RUNNING TIME: 102 minutes


AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: July 9,1998 - Sydney; Melb- August 13

VIDEO RELEASE: December 8, 1999


© Urban Cinefile 1997 - 2020