01 work, PORTRAIT OF A LADY, Francesco Furini’s Artemisia Prepares to Drink the Ashes, with Footnotes. #136

Attributed to Francesco Furini (1603–1646)
Artemisia Prepares to Drink the Ashes of her Husband, Mausolu, circa 1630

Oil on canvas
Height: 79.4 cm (31.2 ″); Width: 66.7 cm (26.2 ″)
Yale University Art Gallery

Artemisia II of Caria (died 350 BC) was a naval strategist, commander and the sister (and later spouse) and the successor of Mausolus, ruler of Caria. Mausolus was a satrap of the Achaemenid Empire, yet enjoyed the status of king or dynast of the Hecatomnid dynasty. After the death of her brother/husband, Artemisia reigned for two years, from 353 to 351 BCE. 

Artemisia is renowned in history for her extraordinary grief at the death of her husband (and brother) Mausolus. She is said to have mixed his ashes in her daily drink, and to have gradually pined away during the two years that she survived him. To perpetuate his memory she built at Halicarnassus the celebrated Mausoleum, listed by Antipater of Sidon as one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World and whose name subsequently became the generic term for any splendid sepulchral monument. 

Artemisia commanded a fleet and played a role in the military-political affairs of the Aegean. The island republic of Rhodes objected to the fact that a woman was ruling Caria and sent a fleet against Artemisia without knowing that her deceased husband had built a secret harbour. Artemisia hid ships rowers, and marines and allowed the Rhodians to enter the main harbour. Artemisia and her citizens met the Rhodians at the city walls and invited them into the city. When the Rhodians began exiting their ships, Artemisia sailed her fleet through an outlet in the sea and into the main harbour. She captured empty Rhodian ships, and the Rhodian men who disembarked were killed in the marketplace. Artemisia then put her men on the Rhodian ships and had them sail back to Rhodes. The men were welcomed in the Rhodian harbour and they took over Rhodes.

Artemisia wanted to conquer Latmus, she placed soldiers in ambush near the city and she, with women, eunuchs and musicians, celebrated a sacrifice at the grove of the Mother of the Gods, which was about seven stades distant from the city. When the inhabitants of Latmus came out to see the magnificent procession, the soldiers entered the city and took possession of it. More on Artemisia II of Caria

Francesco Furini (c. 1600 (or 1603) – August 19, 1646) was an Italian Baroque painter of Florence, noted for his sensual sfumato style in paintings of both secular and religious subjects. He was born in Florence to an artistic family. Furini’s early training was by Matteo Rosselli. Traveling to Rome in 1619, he also would have been exposed to the influence of Caravaggio and his followers.

Furini’s work reflects the tension faced by the conservative, mannerist style of Florence when confronting then novel Baroque styles. He is a painter of biblical and mythological set-pieces with a strong use of the misty sfumato technique. In the 1630s his style paralleled that of Guido Reni.

Furini became a priest in 1633 for the parish of Sant’Ansano in Mugello.

Freedberg describes Furini’s style as filled with “morbid sensuality”. His frequent use of disrobed females is discordant with his excessive religious sentimentality, and his polished stylization and poses are at odds with his aim of expressing highly emotional states. His stylistic choices did not go unnoticed by more puritanical contemporary biographers like Baldinucci. Pignoni also mirrored this style in his works.

Furini traveled to Rome again in the year before his death in 1646. More on Francesco Furini 

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Author: zaidangallery

I search Art History for Beautiful works that may, or may not, have a secondary or unexpected story to tell. I then write short summaries that grow from my research. Art work is so much more when its secrets are exposed

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