The Passion Of Artemisia - Susan Vreeland NO SPOILERS!

Finished: I feel like I was a bit harsh in all my previous criticism. However what I sais IS what I felt at those particular points in the book. I am giving this 4 stars - the ending was superbly done. What can I say other than that I forgive all the previous faults that irritated me. Still, one can be almost proud to NOT be religious! The title is perfect. The Passion of Artemesia is tha passion that moves an artist. Now at the end, I simply have deep respect for this woman, artist, mother and daughter.

Through page 275: The lecturing has stoped, and I like the way the author is tieing up the strings. I also really like how the relationship between Artemisia and her daughter Palmira is described by the author. I guess it is imagined, but it is a very true to life relationship. There is love and there is acceptance even of traits that are so very different between the mother and daughter.

Through page 237: OK, maybe this is what is botherng me. First of all the paintings do not move me. Secondly, I don't like it when books analyzing art tell you what you should be feeling, tell you why you should feel this or that or tell you what a particular paining MEANS. The analysis seems quite feasible, but I don't enjoy being fed this spoon by spoon.


Through page 225: Nope I jus do not like this. It is putting me to sleep.

Through page 194: Religion played a vital role in people's lives. I have a very had time relating to this. Religious beliefs did not bother me in Chevalier's Girl with a Pearl Earring, but in this book it does. Religion influences the subject matter of Artemisia's paintings, and I end up feeling just sort of numb. Another thing that bothers me is that because Artemisia is so strong I haveg little sympathy for her. Think of Michelangelo's David, we love him b/c he is fighting a battle where is opponent is so much stronger than he is. This thought is not mine, but stated in the book. I agree! Knowing this, Vreeland should have realized herself that it is hard to side with Artemisia. She doesn't need my help - she is so strong herself! She consistently manages to do the right hing even when she is treated unfairly. She seems a bit too good to be true.....

Through page 109: I am liking this more and more. It IS about the soul of artist too.

"Inclinazione (a painting commissioned by Michelangelo Buonarroti the Younger) may have been beautiful. It may have looked real, but it was missing something. For me the pleasure had been visual, in creating shape and applying the colour, and tactile, in smearing the thich creamy paint on my palette, but the pleasure was not of the mind. The painting did not have "invenzioneƩ. It did not tell a story. I had been paid for craft, not for art."

Hmm, maybe this is how Artemisia felt, but this canvas was commissioned for a particular purpose, a particular place. Artists must sell their pieces and not all can be completely a result of the artist's own feelings and motivations and wishes. Furthermore, doesn't a good piece of art move the observer in many different ways. A masterpiec doesn't mean just that one thing, but will affect different people in different ways. Each will see a different story perhaps. What is important is that it moves us, NOT that it moves us along one set path. Just my views!

And the book is about people and our human emotions of anger, jealousy, revenge and our inability to change. It is about the artist and the model, husband and wife, parents and children..... all of these both rewarding and conflicting relationships. You just have to stop and think about them in the context of how the story plays out.

Through page 67; Artemisia is now in Florence, the city of artists! Vreeland's writing makes the city come alive with all its smells and sounds and views. I am a sucker for good descriptive writing:

"In the afternoon two days later, the clouds broke apartand sunlight brushed with a light sienna the stone arches and crenellations of Porta Romana, the southern entrance to the city of Florence. Ochre buildings with red tiled roofs and shutters the color of cinnamon or basil lined the road......"

"The street of the cheese shops, though pungent, wasn't so bad, and by the time we passed the spice shops, I was breathing normally again. Every shade of yellow ochre, sienna, orange, cinnamon, and dull green powders spilled out of large muslin bags onto the street. . The colours of my new city. In every piazza a sculpture, in every niche the patron saint of some guild."

Palazzo Pitti, the the Duomo of Santa Mariadel Fiore, the Brunelleschi Dome, the Arno and much, much more are described! Hmmm - this I like!


Through page 56: Perhaps I shouldn't but it is impossible not to compare this historical fiction about an artist with Girl with a Pearl Earring which I just finished. Both are about artists, both occur in the mid 1600s, the latter in Holland and the one I am currently reading taking place in Italy. Their tone is so very different. There was a calmness in Chevalier's book while this book pulses with urgency. Maybe this is not surprising in that Vreeland's book begins with a rape trial and the last book was about a humble maid with artistic talents. It was her master, Vermeer, who was the acclaimed artist in Chevalier's novel! Chevalier's book seems to be more about character study and what makes an artist an artist while Vreeland's is more about betrayal, so far at least. How does one deal with betrayal? In Vreeland's book the characters act in a manner or with a determination that seems "modern". To me it seems a bit like a message is being given and that makes me uncomfortable. But hej it is a good story and maybe my initial worries are completely off track! Each book should be judged on its own merits. I am so happy to be home reading again!