A recently discovered self-portrait by Artemisia Gentileschi, the most celebrated female artist of the Italian Baroque, is now on display in Glasgow Women’s Library just in time for International Women’s Day.
Self Portrait as Saint Catherine of Alexandria, an oil painting from 1615–17, will be on display in Glasgow Women’s Library to 19 March. After, it will travel around the UK on a tour to unusual and unexpected venues through summer 2019. The sites include a girls’s school and a health centre.
“The National Gallery acquired Artemisia Gentileschi’s Self Portrait last year, and it now belongs to everyone,” the National Gallery Director Gabriele Finaldi says. “The tour ‘Artemisia Visits…’ takes this superb picture to a series of remarkable and unexpected venues across the country, so that it can be enjoyed by people who may not be able to get to see it in Trafalgar Square.”
Self Portrait as Saint Catherine of Alexandria shows a female figure with a halo is visible just above her head. Her left hand rests on the top of a broken spiked wheel, a symbol associated with the martyred Christian saint Catherine of Alexandria. Many of Gentileschi’s paintings feature a strong female hero as their main protagonist. Scholars often read Gentileschi’s paintings as autobiographical.
In an era when the public did not easily accept female artists, Gentileschi was the first woman to become a member of the Accademia del Disegno in Florence. She also had an international clientele that included royalty. Gentileschi is one of the most accomplished painters among the followers of Caravaggio.
Gentileschi still faced challenges in both her professional and personal life. She was raped by a fellow painter and was subjected to gruelling questioning and physical torture during the trial that ensued. Her biography has long overshadowed her artistic achievements, but today she is recognised as one of the most talented painters of her generation.
Edited by Elena K. Cruz.