Blood Water Paint

Blood Water Paint

Book - 2018
Average Rating:
Rate this:
In Renaissance Italy, Artemisia Gentileschi endures the subjugation of women that allows her father to take credit for her extraordinary paintings, rape and the ensuing trial, and torture, buoyed by her deceased mother's stories of strong women of the Bible.
Publisher: New York, NY : Dutton Books, [2018]
ISBN: 9780735232112
Characteristics: 289 pages ; 22 cm


From Library Staff

Artemisia Gentileschi, 17-year-old daughter of a mediocre Renaissance painter, assists her choleric father Orazio in his studio, mixing colors but, moreso, trying to save face for him by finishing paintings that he is incapable of completing. Remembering the stories of strong biblical women which... Read More »

DPLaprilteenservices Jul 10, 2018

McCullough uses a powerful combination of poetry and prose to share the stories of historical women finding their voices (and swords.) It is both angering and empowering to see the unchanging treatment of women, and their subsequent discovery of personal agency, through today's #metoo lens.

From the critics

Community Activity


Add a Quote
JCLEmilyD Jan 05, 2019

"Women who speak truth. / And listen to me, love. / When a woman risks / her place, her very life to speak / a truth the world despises? / Believe her. Always" (p. 252)

JCLEmilyD Jan 05, 2019

"Why, though, does it take / a mother, daughter, sister / for men to take / a women at her word?" (p. 237)

JCLEmilyD Jan 05, 2019

"The court's concerned, / as always, / with the men." (p. 223)

JCLEmilyD Jan 05, 2019

"But then, to be so terrified and still persist is true courage." (p. 220)

JCLEmilyD Jan 05, 2019

"Words have power. / He won't take mine again." (p. 202)

JCLEmilyD Jan 05, 2019

"She deserves that much--a witness, one who says I see you, hear you, I'm better for knowing your story." (p. 175)

JCLEmilyD Jan 05, 2019

"Sometimes that's all you need, my love--another woman's faith in you." (p. 158)

JCLEmilyD Jan 05, 2019

"The boys have all the tales they need of brave warriors and army captains." (p. 142)

JCLEmilyD Jan 05, 2019

"The world will tell you not to be outraged, love. They will tell you to sit quietly, be kind. Be a lady.
And when they do? Be Judith instead." (p. 78)

JCLEmilyD Jan 05, 2019

"You'll feel outrage too one day. Perhaps you already have... But you will rage, and be told you are too small, too weak, too feebleminded to be of use. You are not." (p. 76)

View All Quotes


Add a Comment
LPL_MaryW Sep 20, 2019

Blood Water Paint punched me in the face, and I’m not even mad about it. It’s historical fiction like you’ve never read, told in powerful verse by an illiterate narrator—real-life Italian Baroque painter Artemisia Gentileschi (a.k.a. my new feminist hero). That’s right, this book is the story of a real girl who was raped in the seventeenth century, and who took her rapist to trial (charging him with damage to her father’s property), all while painting masterpieces to her father’s sole credit. This unflinchingly feminist story will give courage to girls and women for years to come.

Feb 26, 2019

A beautiful, creative portrayal of the painter Artemisia Gentileschi as a young woman in 1610. Told part in prose and part in free verse, it is a powerful little story and very original in structure. I simply loved it.

Jan 24, 2019

I rated this 4 stars because it's an important book and it will resonate very strongly for the readers it needs to reach.

But...really it's more of a 3-star book for me. The verse didn't seem to work very well for the storytelling, though it did at least finally make sense once I found out it was adapted from a stage play. (I think that format would be most compelling, and I kind of wish it had been brought to the public in the form of a script instead of a novel in verse.)

This one was overall good. I could tell what it was trying to do. But for me, it still fell flat.

I'm not sure who the audience is -- sexual assault survivors might find it *too* real (and too depressing that not much has changed in the last few hundred years) and other audiences might not connect. But I'm sure that audience is out there. So check it out from your local library for free, try it, and see -- maybe it'll change your life.

JCLHebahA Jan 02, 2019

This was my last read of 2018, and it's a powerful one. Historical stories like Artemisia's will, it seems, always be relevant, but it's about more than rape--it's feminism and how women's stories are told and art and history. Blood Water Paint is one of those stories that is going to stick with me.

RDPL_Teens Dec 18, 2018

"When a woman risks her place/her very life to speak/a truth the world despises?/ Believe her. Always."

This work of historical fiction written in largely in verse hits right at the very heart of issues of gender, rape, victim-shaming, and strength of spirit and conviction. A difficult, but valuable read for youth and adults both, and a brilliant reminder that survivors of sexual violence are not alone. The story is based on true events that happened to a young Italian artist in the 1600s and the stand she takes against her attacker and the society which sought to condemn her. A brilliant debut!

" I will show you/what a woman can do".

JCLEmmaF Nov 16, 2018

"I will show you / what a woman can do."
This book is very hard to read, which is perhaps why it should be read. I had no idea who Artemisia Gentileschi was until I read this book, and I am stunned: One of Italy's most talented painters was a woman who wanted to tell women's stories accurately. Stunning. This is a book in verse telling the story of female power and vulnerability, through sexual violence.

SnoIsleLib_LindseyA Nov 03, 2018

This is a powerful debut novel written in verse about trailblazing Italian painter, Artemisia Gentileschi. Artemisia was one of the rare female artists of the early modern era, a teenager whose talent surpassed her father's at a time when women's lives were controlled by men. I've always been fascinated by Artemisia as an artist, and moved by her bravery in bringing her rape case to court. Woven throughout are tales of women from the Bible that are surprisingly feminist in nature, and mirror the events in Artemisia's life. It's a lovely read!

lsmithsug Oct 06, 2018

This is the first verse novel I've ever read, and reading this specific narrative in verse format proved a powerful experience. Sprinkled throughout the novel are stories of other strong women that intertwine with Artemisia Gentileschi's to create a powerhouse feminist novel that leaves the reader both empowered and haunted. Everything a novel should be.

infinite_tbr Jul 17, 2018

I loved that this book was in verse, it really helped you get inside Artemisia Gentileschi's head. This book is kind of intense at points since it deals with rape as a subject, but it's a powerful story of standing up and speaking out. I just wish it had pictures of her paintings...

DPLaprilteenservices Jul 10, 2018

McCullough uses a powerful combination of poetry and prose to share the stories of historical women finding their voices (and swords.) It is both angering and empowering to see the unchanging treatment of women, and their subsequent discovery of personal agency, through today's #metoo lens.

View All Comments


Add Notices
JCLEmilyD Jan 05, 2019

Sexual Content: This title contains Sexual Content.

JCLEmilyD Jan 05, 2019

Violence: rape, stoning, beheading, sexual assault

RDPL_Teens Dec 18, 2018

Sexual Content: Depicts rape.

RDPL_Teens Dec 18, 2018

Violence: Depicts a beheading, and rape.


Add Age Suitability
RDPL_Teens Dec 18, 2018

RDPL_Teens thinks this title is suitable for 15 years and over


Add a Summary

There are no summaries for this title yet.

Explore Further

Browse by Call Number


Subject Headings


Find it at DPL

To Top