Artemesia in London
July 27, 2018 8:08 AM   Subscribe

Earlier this month, the National Gallery of Art expanded their holdings of women artists by purchasing the Baroque artist Artemesia Gentileschi's Self Portrait as Saint Catherine of Alexandria.

The painting is currently undergoing conservation: here is a video of the first stages of that treatment

The painting shows Artemesia in the guise of the saint, who holds her most famous attribute, the Catherine Wheel or Breaking Wheel, a torture device.
posted by PussKillian (7 comments total) 20 users marked this as a favorite
I love her, this is great news. Just because female painters at the professional level were fairly rare pre-1900 doesn't mean they didn't exist, for goodness' sake, and Gentileschi has always been exhibit A. Unless that's Judith Leyster (much of whose work was inexplicably attributed to Hals for a long time, despite being 50% weirder than the work of that already very weird master, and despite it including an OBVIOUS SELF-PORTRAIT WITH PAINTING TOOLS IN HAND).

Gentilischi also did a terrific self-portrait as the allegory of painting, an ironic title given how fierce and physical she portrays painting to be. Look at her necklace, swinging with the effort, and her sweaty hair -- a self-portrait of the genius as laborer.
posted by thesmallmachine at 8:34 AM on July 27, 2018 [9 favorites]

[The Gallery] last acquired an artwork by a female artist in 1991, when it was presented with five pieces by Paula Rego.


This reminds me of an article from June that goes into the artist's (dramatic and traumatic) history, and makes a plea for the royal family to donate a (different) portrait of hers to the National Gallery. (On preview, this is the Allegory of Painting portrait that thesmallmaschine mentions.)
posted by trig at 8:43 AM on July 27, 2018

(Probably worth pointing out that that dramatic and traumatic history included actual torture, and that her audience for this painting would have been likely to know this.)
posted by trig at 8:51 AM on July 27, 2018

Of 2,300 works in the London gallery's collections, it now owns a grand total of 21 by women.
posted by Gordafarin at 9:26 AM on July 27, 2018 [1 favorite]

Admittedly, the National Gallery has a tiny collection, but having so few works by female artists seems very troubling and an indictment of its leadership.
posted by HiddenInput at 1:46 PM on July 27, 2018 [1 favorite]

This is great for the NG. Gentileschi's Self Portrait as St. Catherine is just so powerful on many levels, my veins boil whenever I see it.
posted by runcifex at 6:58 PM on July 27, 2018

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