Tenebrosa meets with the vampire Lord Vulpes.
Artemisia Gentileschi was born in Rome on July 8, 1593. Artemisia was the eldest child and only daughter of painter Orazio Gentileschi and his wife Drusilla Montone. Even in early childhood, Artemisia displayed remarkable artistic talent but she was the only one of the Gentileschi children to develop a high aptitude for art. Her mother died when she was only 12, just before Artemisia began her painting apprenticeship. Orazio was her first instructor and his style can been seen in some of her work. From early in her career, Artemisia refused to limit herself portraits and still life paintings, the 'proper' venues for women artists, but immediately established herself as an ambitious history painter. Artemisia was also the only known female follower of Caravaggio and his style seems to have had the most influence on her work. Among all pre-modern women artists, she is known for the most consistently original interpretations of traditional themes. Her first signed and dated painting Susanna and the Elders (1610) was completed when Artemisia was only 17 years old. Unlike most interpretations of this biblical story, Artemisia depicts Susanna as a vulnerable and innocent woman. This unusual choice of viewpoints is particularly notable when considered that Artemisia created this work before her encounter with Agostino Tassi.
In the summer of 1611, Orazio asked Agostino Tassi, a landscape and marine painter, to tutor Artemisia in perspective. During one of their lessons, Tassi raped Artemisia. Although Tassi tried to cover his act by promising to marry Artemisia, he never fulfilled this promise. Orazio sued Tassi for injury and damage. Incredibly, the transcripts from this seven-month long trial have survived. The trial was extremely humiliating for Artemisia. Tassi claimed that Artemisia had not been a virgin at the time he had had intercourse with her, that she had had many lovers before him and that in fact it was she who had seduced him. Artemisia maintained that she had indeed been a virgin before Tassi had compromised her. To prove this, she was forced to undergo an examination by midwives to determine how long it had actually been since she was 'deflowered'. She was even subjected to torture in the form of thumbscrews during her testimony to ensure that she was telling the truth. Tassi, who had been imprisoned before on charges of incest with his sister-in-law, served only eight months in prison for the rape and after his release, the charges were dismissed.
A month after the trial ended, Artemisia married Pierantonio Stiattesi (November 29, 1612), an artist. Within a year, they moved to Florence, where she quickly emerged as a leading painter. This was quite an accomplishment, especially for a woman, in a city famous for its artists. In 1613 Artemisia became the first woman artist to join the Accademia delle Arti del Disegno. It was during this time that Artemisia began to develop her own, more distinct, style and took particular interest in painting biblical scenes, especially those from the story of Judith and Holofernes. Artemisia's interpretations of the story of Judith, especially those from the time immediately after the trial, were particularly violent. While in Florence, Artemisia gave birth to two daughters who were named Drusilla (after her mother and Prudenzia.
In 1618, Artemisia returned to Rome. Unbeknownst to her, a suitor had been following her. Under the dim light of the moon one evening, after a courtly affair, she was turned by the vampire Raphael Caravelli. She was taught the ways of the their kind. As a fledgling, she was unaccustomed to the life of vampires and the politics and intrigue that soon followed in Rome. It was here she would have her skills tested, and she began to work on pieces of art again. One of Artemisia's finest and best known works was completed during these years. Judith and her Maidservant, (Which is is surprisingly at the Millennium City Institute of Arts, formerly the Detroit Institute of Arts, 1625) is an exceptional piece of work. She demonstrated to her sire her knowledge of oil painting to produce a finely crafted piece of artwork, showing mastery of chiaroscuro and tenebrism. Socially, she was able to meet many others including Galileo Galilei with whom she remained in epistolary contact for a long time. She also was in favor with Granduchess Cristina and the two were fast friends for many years.
After her husband noticed her strange behavior of not being around much, the two parted ways in the late 1620s. This left Artemisia on her own and her sire was able to mold her more than before. The two left for Naples in 1630 and she changed her name to Sybil Caravelli. It appears as though they were able to get someone else to take up Artemisia's social role and carefully arranged for the lady to step out of the limelight for several years. To plan for this, she created a Self Portrait of the new Artemisia which would eventually be housed in London. For the real Artemisia, or Sybil, unlife would get very disturbing soon.
In 1640, the most traumatic event of her life occurred and one which would shape the rest of her existence. A wicked vampire known only as "the Collector", began snatching up artists around Italy and locked them up in cells deep under the sewers of Naples. Sibyl and her sire both became victims, along with 11 other musicians, painters, and sculptors of the period. Here, they were sentenced to create horrible parodies of art and sculpture and haunting music that would ruin most people's ears. The thirteen 'muses' spent the next century trapped in their cells. They were fed very infrequently, kept on the verge of frenzy and insanity. Over the century, the muses were able to develop a way to communicate with each other from the long distances between their cells. They had all developed their senses to such a level that they were able to meet in the astral plane and eventually form a plan to escape. They combined their efforts and crashed free into the sewers of Naples, sucking down mortals, animals and whatever they could find. While trying to escape, many died to elaborate sewer traps. Eventually, Sibyl and two other artists were the only survivors. Sibyl was a changed woman--one hundred years of torment had wracked her psyche.
Tenebrosa in her vamp form, stalking prey in Vibora Bay
She fled to America in 1805, shortly after her escape. She changed her name to Susanna, one of the figures in her early painting work. She settled down into the Charleston area, enjoying the southern life. With her talents, she mingled into the vampiric aristocracy of the region. With her new life and new mind, Susanna became more flirty, more hedonistic than ever. She wanted to live unlife to its fullest. She embraced her mortal side and everything humanity meant and offered. She romanced men and women alike, enjoying the taste of pleasure and passion in blood. By the time the Civil War rolled around in 1864, she had established herself as a player in her vampire community to the fullest. She was a Confederate blossom, and when the South lost and the ravages of the war ruined much of the region, Susanna had to move again. She moved to New Orleans in 1870, where the plantation life was still quite fine. She continued her reputation as a Southern belle, traveling and mingling with folk. Nothing all too spectacular up until the mid 1950s.
1955 was a year of rock and roll and poodle skirts, and Susanna the Southern Belle, made a change, helping in defining a new subculture. No longer concerned of the stuffy aristocracy she supported, this true artiste moved into the realm of counterculture. She was a pioneer in the punk counterculture. Throughout the next forty years, she would remain on the fringe of vampire society, her art taking on a more rebellious form. She was attracted to the rebel and punk culture and spent several years in the 1960s and 1970s traveling with punk performers. This time of counterculture and rebellion helped focus her to revisit her artistic side.
In 1980, she moved to Italy again to take root in her homeland. She retook her name Sibyl again and took over a warehouse where she spent the next 15 years working on a masterpiece. In 1997, she offered "Naples in Blood" to the Vampire Prince of Rome as a gift. The piece spanned twenty feet by ten feet in length and captured the graphic depictions of vampiric life in the city she once called home. The painting was a sort of catharsis, allowing her to purge the demons of her former captivity once and for all. Recently, she has made her way to Millennium City looking to make headway again in the vampire community. Her painting has gained her some renown and allowed her freedom to explore new avenues of hope and change. She also finds it interesting that she can stop by the Millennium Institute of Art to view one of her most famous paintings anytime she wishes.
Children of Amaranth
Finding a kindred spirit in Asylum, she recently joined her group known as the Children of Amaranth. She still sticks mostly to the shadows though and is getting to know the others of her organization, but for now she is happy to have other like-minded vampires on her side.
Powers and Weaknesses
As a vampire of some age, Sibyl is subject to many of the traditional laws of vampires.
- No Reflection - Sibyl leaves no reflection in mirrors, water or recorded media.
- Sunlight - Sunlight will damage and kill her like most vampires
- Fire - Fire is also very scary to Sibyl and she may go into a frenzy if too close to it.
- Invitation Only - She can only enter a private residence if invited
- Blood Thirst - Like most vampires, she must drink blood to sustain herself or she will become very weak.
- Repelled by Faith - Using a holy symbol with faith, she is able to be turned away and kept at bay.
- Staking - Driving a stake through the heart of Sibyl will paralyze her, leaving her motionless and vulnerable.
- Shadows - Sibyl has the ability to warp and work with shadows.
- Astral Walk - Sibyl can also step through mirrors or reflective water and appear in such reflective surfaces many distances away.
- Heightened Senses - Sibyl's five senses are magnified to very high levels and she can even see auras around beings indicating their health, vitality, and current prevailing emotions.
- Immortality - Like most vampires, Sibyl does not age and can only be killed by fire, decapitation or exposure to sunlight. Any other death will cause her to regenerate back to life.
- Vampiric Presence - Also like some movie vampires, she can enthrall and manipulate mortals with her presence and seductive abilities.