If I needed any proof that journalists don't know much about art, all I have to do is to look at Jonathan Jones's article on women painters, which rubbishes Orazio Gentileschi, the father of Artemisia, the celebrated female artist. This writer shows his ignorance of Orazio by stating that Orazio's art is the antithesis of Caravaggio. It's not as simple as that. For one thing it's known that Orazio knew Caravaggio well; he even lent him props, a detail he had to mention in a law trail against Caravaggio. Orazio may even have seen Caravaggio paint, which may have motivated Orazio to paint alla prima, or straight onto the canvas without the aid of preliminary sketches. It is true that Orazio was to evolve a studied elegance in his art- the pirouetting pose of a monk or saint- but Orazio owed much to Caravaggio despite dispensing with the blood and guts realism that was to attract Artemisia.
I first came across Orazio's art in a local museum where one of versions of the Rest on the Flight into Egypt often intrigued me. Why did he make his Joseph so comically supine; what induced him to have the ass's head peeping out from behind the wall? And there were the colours: cool purples and browns accentuating forms set out in clear planes. Since then I've seen many Orazio works in the U.K., Europe and the States, so I have more of an idea of his traits and influences. I've never regarded him as clinical, a label that Jones gives him. It's true that there's a slightly abstract quality to Orazio's art, but that's because he was diligent in his design, working the composition over and over until it had achieved the degree of perfection which he wanted. Take a look at his Vision of St Francesca Romana (above); look at the careful treatment of the draperies and the creamy impasto of the saint's scarf. I also like his palette; there's the vermilion of the virgin's dress which harmonises with the slate grey of the saint's dress and the previously mentioned snowy white of the scarf. Yet there's even a hint of Caravaggio here with the realistic handling of the angel waiting at the right.
Jones also takes a swipe at what he calls Orazio's "creamy realism" which he sees as anticipating Victorian art. Not being an expert on Victorian art, I don't know if his art influenced that era. I can imagine that Orazio's Raphael- like art may have appealed to artists seeking some kind of classical model. But I can't see Orazio Gentileschi leading to artists like Lord Leighton or others of that ilk. Think again Mr Jones.