A painting, neglected in storage for over a century, has now been identified as a work by Baroque painter Artemisia Gentileschi.
Titled ‘Susanna and the Elders‘, the work was initially misattributed to a French artist. It was kept at the Hampton Court, a palace just outside London. The rising interest in Artemisia Gentileschi, one of the most prominent Baroque painters of the era, prompted curators to re-examine the work – largely because it shared the same subject as another, confirmed Gentileschi’s painting. Soon, they were able to confirm the same.
Anna Reynolds (Deputy Surveyor, Royal Collection Trust) said: “It really is super-exciting. You just could not see the quality of the painting beneath the grime until now, but absolutely it is true and this find has come about as a result of Artemisia’s recently restored reputation.” The painting, believed to have been commissioned by the wife of Charles I, has almost always been exclusively under the Crown.
Artemisia Gentileschi was born in Rome in 1593 and had already started painting professionally by the age of 15. For much of her life and centuries beyond, Gentileschi was only known for her rape by her art instructor and the grueling trial that followed it, ultimately resulting in the conviction of the instructor in 1612. However, in the 21st century, scholars started re-examining the works of Artemisia Gentileschi in a new light. She is particularly well-known for her realistic depictions of the female body. She was also a pioneer for female artists, becoming the first woman to be inducted into the Accademia di Arte del Disegno in Florence.
With the recent, newfound interest, new works of Artemisia Gentileschi continue getting discovered. Her ‘Lucretia’ was bought in 2019 for $5.3 million after being unidentified for 40 years. Another unnamed work, which was damaged in the Beirut explosion in 2020, was attributed to her last year.