A Huguenot on St Bartholomew’s Day (1852), Oil on canvas | artwork by John Everett Millais
Inspired by the opera, Les Huguenots, this painting is tender and bittersweet. Because of the fighting between Catholics and Huguenots (who were Protestant), the Queen Mother and King eventually decided to murder some of the most prominent Huguenot families. In this painting, the Huguenot man is gently pulling off the white armband she is attempting to place on him, a symbol of Roman Catholicism that would have saved his life, as it did many other Huguenots. This would have been instantly recognizable among the English who supported the Huguenots and were Protestant.
[TW] Artemisia Gentileschi (1593–1652) was an Italian Baroque painter and a completely kickass lady. One of her best known paintings is the gory Giuditta che decapita Oloferne, (Judith Beheading Holofernes), which she painted when she was nineteen years old during the trial of her rapist, Agostino Tassi. The trial was a grueling and humiliating ordeal for Artemisia, who had to undergo a gynecological exam and torture with thumbscrews to determine if she was telling the truth. Tassi was eventually found guilty, but never faced punishment for his crimes. It’s clear from her painting what Artemisia’s feelings on the subject were.
She is one of my favorite painters because of her style and subjects of her paintings. Amazing woman and courageous artist.