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They had several children, only one of whom survived to adulthood. Marriage meant that, in addition to the other problems she faced, Artemisia had to deal with a series of pregnancies and with the agonies of seeing her children die. Given those obstacles, it is amazing that she managed to turn out as many pictures as she did.

At some point during her stay in Florence, she embarked on a serious affair with Francesco Maria Maringhi, the wealthy illegitimate son of a Florentine nobleman. Artemisia’s relationship with Maringhi seems to have ended only with his death in 1653.

A cache of letters from Artemisia to Maringhi was discovered in 2011. The letters date from 1616 to 1620. They reveal that at that stage, the relationship was extremely intense, and characterised by outbursts of jealousy, anger and passionate expressions of boundlessly devoted love, at least on her part — no letters from Maringhi to Artemisia survive.

Her husband knew about her relationship with Maringhi, and she knew that he knew. Stiattesi and Artemisia separated sometime before 1624, when she is recorded as heading a household in Rome comprising of herself, her daughter, and two servants. Stiattesi had by then dropped out of her life, or been pushed out. The only surviving reference that Artemisia makes to him is in a letter in 1637 to Cassiano dal Pozzo: she asked him if he has heard whether Stiattesi is alive or dead.

Artemisia wrote to a patron who was trying to get her to accept a lower price for one of her paintings that “you will find the spirit of Caesar in the soul of this woman”. Her few surviving letters do indeed reveal a tough woman who knew how to cajole and threaten as well as how to flatter. 

Despite constant worries about money, Artemisia was notably successful as an independent artist. She received, as she liked to remind patrons in her letters, “commissions from all the monarchs of Europe” — which was an exaggeration, but a pardonable one. Her fame reached Charles I in London, who bought her pictures, and employed her, as it reached Philip IV in Spain, who did the same. She was the first woman member of Florence’s Accademia per Disegno. There was a bronze medal struck with her portrait, and an engraving printed, both of which celebrated her achievements. After stints in Venice, Rome and London, she returned to running a successful studio in Naples. She didn’t die impoverished, neglected or forgotten. We don’t know the exact date of her death, but we do know that she had a stone tomb. 

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