Ahead of the major monographic exhibition of the work of Artemisia Gentileschi, opening at the National Gallery in London next spring, a recently discovered painting set a new auction record for the artist on November 14 at Parisian house Artcurial. Titled Lucretia, the painting swept past its €600,000–€800,000 estimate (about $770,000–$1 million), to fetch a total price of €4.8 million ($6.1 million).
The sale broke Gentileschi’s previous record of €2.8 million ($3.6 million), set in 2017 by a work depicting Saint Catherine, which will be on view in the London show.
Roman noblewoman Lucretia is shown in the act of committing suicide following a sexual assault—a moment that was long ago cited as a momentous transition point for Rome into a republic. The work was discovered in a private collection in Lyon, France, and reportedly sold to a British collection.
Gentilieschi’s work has been lesser known than that of her male contemporaries. Her paintings have only recently been elevated in the marketplace, with one canvas fetching more than $1 million just in 2014, along with recently attracting more scholarly attention.
At the center of the upcoming exhibition will be the National Gallery’s recently acquired Self Portrait as Saint Catherine of Alexandria, which will be displayed alongside other closely related works by Artemisia for the first time since its discovery in 2017.
Artemisia Gentileschi is considered one of the most accomplished followers of Caravaggio, whom she must have known personally through her father, Orazio Gentileschi. At a time when women artists were not easily accepted, she was exceptional for becoming the first female member of the Accademia delle Arti del Disegno in Florence and for enjoying a long and successful career, spanning more than forty years.
The National Gallery London exhibition 'Artemisia' (April 6 to July 26, 2020) will bring together around thirty-five works by the Italian Baroque artist from both public institutions and private collections around the world. The exhibition will present a highly selective survey of Artemisia’s career – from her youthful training in Rome, where she learnt to paint under the guidance of her father, to her formative years in Florence and her return to Rome just a few years later. The exhibition will end with Artemisia’s brief trip to London to join her dying father, and the establishment of her studio in Naples, where she lived for the last 25 years of her life.
Key loans will include Artemisia Gentileschi’s 'Self-Portrait as a Lute Player' (about 1615-18) from the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art in Hartford, Connecticut, painted around the same time as the National Gallery’s own painting.