She is considered one of the most accomplished painters of her generation after Caravaggio. In an era when women painters were not easily accepted by the artistic community or patrons, she was the first female painter to become a member of the Accademia di Arte del Disegno in Florence.
Daughter of Caravaggio's associate Orazio Gentileschi, Artemisia Gentileschi was boldly depicted herself as Pittura, the allegory of painting. "She is saying: 'If painting can be female, then a female can be painting," said Dr Woodall. "We still haven't worked out precisely how she made this self portrait. We think she must have used three mirrors." (https://www.theguardian.com/uk/2005/oct/17/gender.arts)
The muses are female in ancient Greek mythology. For 17th-century painter Artemisia Gentileschi, one of the few women to have a successful career in art in early modern Europe, this was an opportunity. Where a male artist might show himself portraying a woman dressed up as a muse or with a picture of a muse behind him, Gentileschi can show herself personifying painting. Yet any acceptance of a subordinate allegorical role is fiercely contradicted by her tough, muscular image. Painting is a woman, painting is a hero, painting is a worker.