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Artemisia Gentileschi
Lot No. 56 
Artemisia Gentileschi
  • Artemisia Gentileschi
  • Artemisia Gentileschi
  • Artemisia Gentileschi
  • Artemisia Gentileschi
  • Artemisia Gentileschi
  • Artemisia Gentileschi
  • Artemisia Gentileschi
  • Artemisia Gentileschi
  • Artemisia Gentileschi
  • Artemisia Gentileschi

Artemisia Gentileschi

(Rome 1593 - post 31 January 1654 Naples)
oil on canvas, 133 x 106 cm, framed

Video: Artemisia Gentileschi "Lucretia"
Blog: Powerful Women: Artemisia Gentileschi & Lucretia

probably Davide Imperiale, Naples (1672);
probably by inheritance to Maria Caterina Imperiale Grimaldi, marchesa di Petra;
probably Giovanni Jatta (1767–1844), Naples and Ruvo di Puglia;
Giovanni Francesco Gaetano Jatta (1832–1895), Ruvo di Puglia;
and thence by descent to the present owner

probably the painting mentioned in the inventory of Davide Imperiale, 1672, Archivio di Stato di Napoli, Notaio Domenico Cardamone, scheda 1221, prot. 32, fol. 34, no. 8: ‘Una lucretia della medesima [Artemisia Gentileschi], grande come la sudetta [alta cinque larga quattro]’ (see G. Labrot, Collections of paintings in Naples, 1600-1780, Munich 1992, pp. 118-119)

N. Spinosa, Artemisia Gentileschi e Onofrio Palumbo: insieme o ‘separati’?, in: P. Di Loreto (ed.), Una vita per la storia dell’arte. Scritti in onore di Maurizio Marini, Rome 2015, p. 386 and p. 387, fig. 4;
N. Spinosa in: Artemisia Gentileschi e il suo tempo, exhibition catalogue, Rome, Palazzo Braschi, 30 November 2016 – 7 May 2017, Milan 2016, p. 64 and p. 65, fig. 10;
A. Grassi, Artemisia Gentileschi, Pisa-Ospedaletto 2017, pp. 241-242, ill. p. 240

We are grateful to Riccardo Lattuada for independently confirming the attribution after examining the present painting in the original and for his help in cataloguing this lot.

We are also grateful to Wolfgang Prohaska for independently confirming the attribution after examining the painting in the original.

This painting, which has never been publicly exhibited, was given to Artemisia Gentileschi by Nicola Spinosa in 2015, and again in 2016, when he published this work in the catalogue of the monographic exhibition dedicated to Artemisia Gentileschi (see literature). Spinosa initially dated this painting to the late 1620s, or early 1630s, however he has recently repositioned the work to circa 1640-45.

Riccardo Lattuada has suggested that the present work should be dated to circa 1630-1635 on account of the commanding pictorial solution and its close stylistic affinity to the works of Massimo Stanzione and Simon Vouet which are, in his opinion, distinctive features of Artemisia’s early Neapolitan period.

The depiction of Lucretia displays a splendour of flesh-tones, with white, yellow-gold and deep blue drapery and the figure´s vigorous form dynamically moves to the right edge of the pictorial space.

The present painting introduced new motifs to the Neapolitan school of painting: the diagonal composition of Artemisia’s depiction of the Roman noblewoman recalls that of the Lucretia by Simon Vouet (now in the National Gallery, Prague, fig. 1), an artist who Artemisia knew in Rome (see A. Brejon de Lavergnée in: Artemisia Gentileschi e il suo tempo, exhibition catalogue, Milan 2016, pp. 194-195, n. 54). The Vouet painting was also known through an engraving by Claude Mellan (fig. 2; see Vouet, ed. by J. Thuillier, exhibition catalogue, Paris 1990, pp. 66-68).

The present painting can also be compared to works by Stanzione of the same subject, such as the Lucretia in a private collection in Rome (see M. Di Dedda, in: Artemisia Gentileschi e il suo tempo, cit., pp. 234-235, n. 73). Another Lucretia by Stanzione, now in the Museo di Capodimonte, Naples, shares certain elements of composition with the present painting, such as the protagonist´s luxuriously aristocratic clothes (on the inter-relation between Stanzione and Artemisia evidenced by this painting see J.M. Locker, Artemisia Gentileschi. The Language of Painting, New Haven and London 2015, p.121, fig. 4.12, p. 210, n. 121). After Artemisia created the present Lucretia, Stanzione executed another painting of the same subject which is now in the Galleria Durazzo Pallavicini, Genoa (fig. 3). It is compositionally similar to the present painting and a pendant to the Cleopatra, still in the same collection (fig. 4).

On her arrival in Naples, Artemisia enriched the influence of Stanzione with her own potent personality and her previous Roman experience. In fact, a source of inspiration for the dramatic pose of the present Lucretia, can be seen in antique sculpture, visible at that time in Rome, such as the figure of Psyche, now in the Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence, or the Chiaramonti Niobid in the Vatican Museums, Rome. In the present painting, the pose is applied to emphasise the Roman noblewoman’s dramatic gesture as she draws her arm back to stab herself, her eyes turned to the heavens as if to seek inspiration to undertake the ultimate act.

The young Artemisia had already depicted Lucretia in a painting formerly in Palazzo Cattaneo-Adorno, Genoa, and now in the Etro collection, Milan (see J. M. Locker, Ibid., 2015, pp. 46-47, fig. 2.1). Compared to that work, the present Lucretia, elegant and noble in her dramatic gesture, shows the maturity of Artemisia’s pictorial language, as by this stage of her career she was an accomplished, successful and secure artist. The powerful image of this roman heroine, in the impetuous movement that creates a contortion of the body, reveals an inventiveness that demonstrates the genius of the artist. Even though she was inspired by various Neapolitan and Roman artistic influences, Artemisia demonstrates that she is able to re-elaborate the subject of the present painting in a completely personalised and original way.

The legendary Lucretia was the virtuous wife of the nobleman Lucius Tarquinius Collatinus. After her rape by Sextus Tarquinius, she called on her father and her husband for vengeance and then stabbed herself to death. Her tragic gesture led to a rebellion that drove the Tarquins from Rome and marked the foundation of the Roman Republic. The subject of Lucretia speaks of violence towards women, as well as victory over the violence suffered. No one more than Artemisia had just title to do so in ways that still command our admiration for the power suggested in the present painting, whose dramatic image derives from her own experience of violence and its aftermath.

As a woman artist, the depiction of such images of female nudes was unusual. Since the beginning of her career, Artemisia, however, established herself as an ambitious history painter and thrived and excelled in the depiction of dynamic female figures, which are often erotically charged, in control and powerful. Works such as the present painting are sometimes self-portraits where she used herself as the model and display Artemisia´s genius, ambition and bravery. Her corpus of works appear to be timeless and increasingly relevant.

Born in Rome, Artemisia was the eldest child and only daughter of the Tuscan painter Orazio Gentileschi (1563-1639), and she trained as an artist in his workshop. He was aware of Artemisia’s extraordinary talent and showed evident pride in her accomplishments. In fact, in a letter to the Grand Duchess of Tuscany, Maria Maddalena of Austria, dated 1612 – when Artemisia was eighteen years-old – Orazio boasts of his daughter’s ability: ‘havendola drizzata nella professione di pittura, in tre anni si è talmente appraticata, che posso ardire de dire che hoggi non ci sia pare a lei, havendo per sin adesso fatte opere, che forse principali mastri di questa professione non arrivano al suo sapere…’ [‘having studied the profession of painting, after three years she had practiced so much that I can now say that she has no peers, having created such works of art that perhaps even the most important masters of this profession cannot achieve…’] (see: M. D. Garrard, Artemisia Gentileschi, Princeton 1989, pp. 490-491, notes 3,11).

Artemisia’s earliest paintings display a highly precocious artistic ability, due to her technical skill, her creative genius and also to her artistic education in Rome. At the beginning of the seventeenth century, the city enjoyed a period of great vitality and transformation, with an architectural expansion followed by an explosion of painted decorations in palaces and churches, such as the Carracci frescoes in the Palazzo Farnese, the Guido Reni and Domenichino frescoes in the Oratorio of Sant’Andrea al Celio, as well as the paintings by Caravaggio in San Luigi dei Francesi and Santa Maria del Popolo.

Artemisia’s early production was significantly shaped by the art of Caravaggio, a colleague of her father, but mediated by Orazio’s response to the Lombard painter’s language. Artemisia’s palette, the physiognomy of her figures, the sensitive modelling of skin tones and the details of the costumes all show Orazio’s influence. Like her father, she was skilled in rendering surface textures and light reflections. She demonstrated a firm grasp of dramatic narrative and her first paintings illustrate both her debt to her father and her independent artistic personality. Her first dated painting, Susanna and the Elders, signed and dated 1610 (Pommersfelden, Schloss Weissenstein), which was painted when she was seventeen years-old, is extraordinarily accomplished and addresses two themes that she favoured throughout her career, as in the present painting: women heroines and the female nude.

The dramatic rape of Artemisia by the painter Agostino Tassi took place in 1611, and led to the infamous trial of 1612, which was brought by Orazio Gentileschi against his colleague and friend. In that year Artemisia married and at the beginning of 1613 moved to Florence, where she gained notable success. She was supported by the Medici family and in 1616 she became the first female artist to join the Accademia del Disegno.

In 1620, she settled with her family in Rome, where she strengthened her career and met some of the most celebrated artists of that period, such as Simon Vouet. His friendship and his esteem of Artemisia as a painter is proved by his famous Portrait of Artemisia Gentileschi (private collection, fig. 5), which depicts her with a palette and brushes. In Rome, Artemisia frequented the circle of artists who worked for the Barberini family and she knew the scholar and collector Cassiano Dal Pozzo, who was her principal patron and supporter in the city.

Artemisia then moved to Venice and by 1630 she was in Naples. Here she remained for the rest of her life, with the exception of a trip to London to visit her father Orazio, who had become court painter to Queen Henrietta in 1626. In the early seventeenth century, Naples was the largest city in southern Europe and a major art capital which became a magnet for artists seeking opportunity and success. The Spanish viceroys, religious orders and merchants from port cities all over Europe were active patrons of the arts.

When Artemisia arrived in Naples she worked under the protection of Massimo Stanzione, who helped her to obtain prestigious patrons at the Spanish court. In his cycle of Stories from the life of Saint John the Baptist, executed for the chapel of Buen Retiro in Madrid, Stanzione supplied the majority of the paintings, but he entrusted to Artemisia the execution of one work, representing the Birth of the Baptist (see R. Lattuada, Unknown Paintings by Artemisia in Naples and New Points Regarding her Daily Life and Bottega, in: Artemisia Gentileschi in a Changing Light, Turnhout 2017, pp. 187-216, in part. pp. 187-191).

In the following years Artemisia continued to be known as a painter of nudes since she made several versions of major works depicting women such as Bathsheba and Susanna. Her paintings were popular and highly sought after and in the late period of her career she collaborated with well-known Neapolitan painters in order to meet these demands. During the 1630s, she received her first public commission for three paintings for the choir of the cathedral of Pozzuoli, part of a set of commissions assigned to several artists.

The present painting of Lucretia can most probably be identified as the work once in the Neapolitan collection of the Genoese banker Davide Imperiale. The dimensions almost perfectly match those of the painting recorded, (together with another painting by Artemisia called a Mary Magdalene), in his inventory of June 1672: five Neapolitan palms by four (one Neapolitan palm = 26.4 cm, therefore 132 x 105.6 cm; see G. Labrot, Collections of paintings in Naples, 1600-1780, Munich 1992, p.119, no. 8; R. Ward Bissell, Artemisia Gentileschi and the Authority of Art, University Park 1999, pp. 373-374, L-52; Y. Primarosa, Tableaux d’Artemisia dans les collections européennes, 1612-1723, in: Artemisia 1593-1654, exhibition catalogue, Paris 2012, p. 243).

Imperiale belonged to the Francavilla and Massafra branch of the family who owned property in Puglia and his collection included works by Genoese artists, such as Luca Cambiaso, but it mostly contained works by Neapolitan artists, including paintings by Battistello Caracciolo and Micco Spadaro. Artemisia must have been the artist most esteemed by the collector, as her works are the most numerous in the inventory. Imperiale’s property was inherited by his sister, Maria Caterina Imperiale Grimaldi, marchesa di Petra.

During the nineteenth century, the painting of Lucretia entered the collection of the Jatta family from Ruvo di Puglia. Giovanni Jatta (1767-1844) created an important archaeological collection of ancient Greek vases (see G. Andreassi, Jatta di Ruvo. La famiglia, la collezione, il museo nazionale, Bari 1996). He most probably acquired the present work in Naples. In the family archives, there are various documents relating to the collection that refer to a ‘belle donne nude con pugnale’ [‘beautiful nude women with a dagger’]. Another painting of Lucretia from the same collection by the artist Diana (Annella) de Rosa is also offered in the sale (see lot 58).

Specialist: Mark MacDonnell

Artemisia Gentileschi
Convert currency
  • realized price**
    EUR 1,885,000
    USD 2,145,000
  • estimate
    EUR 500,000 to 700,000
    USD 569,000 to 796,500

Mon.-Fri.: 9.00am - 6.00pm (CET)
+43 1 515 60 200


Old Master Paintings
Date: 23.10.2018, 17:00
Location: Palais Dorotheum Vienna
Exhibition: 13.10. - 23.10.2018

**Purchase price incl. all charges, commissions and taxes

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