May 14, 1612 — Before the Curia, Papal Court, Rome, Vatican
My lord, I am ready to confirm my statement under torture and whatever must be done. . . .
[Agostino Tassi] having found me painting, said to me: “Don’t paint so much, don’t paint so much.”
[Gentileschi said Tassi grabbed her paintbrushes and palette and hurled them across the room, then bundled her into the bedroom and locked the door.]
He then threw me onto the edge of the bed, pushing me with a hand on my breast, and he put a knee between my thighs to prevent me from closing them. Lifting my clothes, he placed a hand with a handkerchief on my mouth to keep me from screaming.
I scratched his face and pulled his hair and, before he penetrated me again, I grasped his penis so tight that I even removed a piece of flesh.
[Afterward, she grabbed a knife and said. . . ]
I’d like to kill you with his knife because you have dishonored me.
[Tassi opened his coat and taunted her by saying, “Here I am.”]
[She threw the knife at him.]
He shielded himself. Otherwise I would have hurt him and might easily have killed him.
[The judge asked if she had bled.]
At the time the said Agostino attacked me, I was having my period and therefore I am not able to say certainly to your lordship whether my vagina bled because of what Agostino did, because I did not know much about how these things happen; but it is true that it seemed to me that the blood was redder than usual. . . .
[Gentileschi said she took a knife from a drawer and threatened Tassi with it.]
I want to kill you because you have shamed me.
[On May 14, 1612, Gentileschi was taken to Tassi’s cell. She was asked to repeat her claim of rape to his face, which she did. He denied it. A judge then asked if Gentileschi would stand by her story under torture. With Tassi watching, cords were wrapped around her fingers and pulled tighter and tighter, crushing them.]
I have told the truth and always will because it is true, and I will do what is needed to confirm it.
It’s true, it’s true, it’s true. (E vero, e vero, e vero, e vero.)
Source: Artemisia Gentileschi: The Images of the Female Hero in Italian Baroque Art, by Mary D. Gerrard (Princeton: Princeton University Press), 1989.
Also: Daily Mail, 29 September, 2020.