Artemisia Gentileschi Show Opens on Saturday 4 April
Publicity is ramping up for a major new exhibition of Europe’s greatest female Old Master at the National Gallery, curated by art historian Letizia Treves (LEH 1985-1992).
Letizia gave a fascinating glimpse into the life and work of Artemisia as part of her Remarkable Women Lecture: Looking at Pictures last year (March 2019).
A recent feature in The Times revealed that the first major UK exhibition about the woman who is rapidly becoming the most renowned pre-20th century female artist will feature a series of letters written to her lover, in addition to about 30 works, borrowed from around the globe.
The letters reveal a breadwinning wife and mother of five who conducted a sensual affair while becoming an acclaimed artist with patrons seeking her “erotic” works, which were actually pretty gruesome, according to Letizia.
Artemisia, who was popular during the 17th century, faded from art history and has only recently been subject to re-evaluation. When the National Gallery purchased her Self-Portrait as Saint Catherine of Alexandria in 2018 for £3.6 million it became her first piece to enter a British public collection.
The exhibition will bring together many of the pictures that are now regarded as masterpieces, including her two versions of Judith beheading Holofernes.
The artist would often feature female heroines such as Judith, Susannah and Cleopatra. Letizia told The Times: “There is a real truthfulness… If you went to Artemesia you got what no male artist could provide; this very visceral, female interpretation of these heroines.”
Photo caption from left to right, Mr Treves (Letizia's father), Letitiza Treves (LEH 1985-1992), art teacher Hilary Peat and retired Head of Art Sarah Pauffley, and sister Lorenza Treves (LEH 1989-1996)