A Self Portrait as Saint Catherine of Alexandria by Artemisia Gentileschi has been acquired by The National Gallery, London to balance the presence of female artists in the collection. The painting was discovered by Marco Voena and Fabrizio Moretti in an auction in Paris last year, its attribution long forgotten. Robilant+Voena helped with the deal. The sale of this exemplary oil on canvas, which represents Artemisia as the 4th-century martyr Saint Catherine of Alexandria, is an important addition to the National Gallery’s limited holding of works by female artists. The occasion marks the addition of the first painting by Artemisia, the first Italian Baroque female portrait, and the first Italian Baroque self-portrait to the National Gallery’s collection.
“The National Gallery’s remit covers Western European painting from around 1250 to 1900. However, for a great deal of this period women were largely denied the same opportunities that were afforded to men and as a result only a handful were able to succeed in the art of painting. Therefore, works by women artists of this period are very rare compared to works by male artists, and our collection reflects that historical fact. However, although it is far more difficult for us to purchase great works by women artists, the National Gallery regularly works with women artists for its exhibitions and other programmes – most recently with Tacita Dean. We have more exciting plans for the future that we will be announcing over the coming months.” – National Gallery Director, Dr Gabriele Finaldi, said.