LA CIVETTA April 2019 - Page 34


The National Gallery has recently unveiled a fully-restored rare self-portrait by Artemisia Gentileschi (1593 - circa 1652). The Baroque-period artist, credited as one of the greatest female painters of 17th century, was known for her allegorical paintings, which Self Portrait as Saint Catherine of Alexandria encompasses. Hours of meticulous care were taken merely to mount the painting perfectly on the wall, but the painting is now officially on public display in the Central Hall of the National Gallery. Through the support of the Art Fund and with the treatment led by the National Gallery’s Head of Conservation, Larry Keith, the self-portrait went through an in-depth restoration process. The relatively small piece has such a tremendous presence in a large room with real “wall-power,” due to Gentileschi telling her story of strength through the vision of a famous martyr..

Una formazione della Nazionale italiana del 1933



Bearing an incredibly turbulent personal life, Artemisia Gentileschi shows the pain she has overcome through her artwork. Gentileschi was born in Rome towards the end of the 16th century and faced life’s tragedies from a young age; Gentileschi lost her mother when she was 12 years old. She suffered another tragedy five years later, when she was raped by one of her father's colleagues, Agostino Tassi. When Tassi refused to marry her, her father pursued a legal case against him. While she was testifying against her abuser, Artemisia's fingers were subjected to ‘sibille’ — metal rings that were increasingly tightened (a courtroom practice at the time to ensure the witness was telling the truth). The trial lasted several months and Gentileschi’s painfully graphic statements were all transcribed. Tassi was finally found guilty of the crime and exiled from Rome, but the court order was never enforced. However, Gentileschi soon after married the Florentine painter Pietro Antonio di Vicenzo Stiattesi in November 1612. With her new husband, she relocated to Florence, giving her an opportunity to flourish as an artist. It is from Artemisia’s Florentine period – considered by many the most accomplished years of her artistic activity – that the Self Portrait as Saint Catherine of Alexandria dates.