Artemisia Gentileschi as a Paradigm of 17th Century Feminism

This January, Sotheby’s celebrates trailblazing female artists from the 16th through the 19th century with The Female Triumphant, a group of exceptional works of art that will be offered in our Masters Week sales. In spite of extraordinary obstacles, talented artists such as Elisabeth-Louise Vigée Le Brun, Fede Galizia, and Michaelina Wautier paved the way for future generations of artists everywhere. In this Episode of Masterworks: Expert Voices, Sotheby’s Chairman Lisa Dennison illustrates how Artemisia Gentileschi uses chiaroscuro to bring biblical heroines to the forefront of her paintings via Saint Sebastian Tended by Irene. While the piece concerns St. Sebastian’s persecution, his face is mostly obscured in shadow. By illuminating the intense expressions of Irene and Lucina, Gentileschi refocuses the scene to empower her heroines with agency. Gentileschi is often referred to as a follower of Caravaggio, but her distinctive ability to render dramatic stories in intricate detail establishes her as one of the most important artists of the 17th century. Explore this work and more in Sotheby’s Master Paintings Evening Sale. (30 January | New York)

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