ARTEMISIA GENTILESCHI | A female martyr saint, probably Saint Catherine of Alexandria | 阿爾泰米西婭・真蒂萊斯基 | 《殉道聖女，應為亞歷山大的聖加大肋納》
Property from a Private Collection, U.K.
Rome 1593 - after January 1654 Naples
A female martyr saint, probably Saint Catherine of Alexandria
oil on canvas
90.2 x 75 cm.; 35½ x 29½ in.
90.2 x 75公分；35 ½ x 29 ½英寸
The following condition report is provided by Henry Gentle who is an external specialist and not an employee of Sotheby's:
Oil on canvas, in a period gilt frame in good condition
The original canvas has been recently lined. The paint layer is stable and secure. A slightly raised vertical ridge , approximately 5cm in length, can be seen at the centre top.
A strip down the left hand edge, 2cm in width, has been restored, there has also been augmentation to the right hand edge.
The paint layer is very well preserved.
There has been some strengthening of the sky, upper right, and a scattering of restorations to St. Catherine's forehead and along her jawline where it meets her ear can be detected , mostly to reduce fine dark cracking and thinness to the paint layer. The back of her hand has been slightly augmented to, the restoration is unsympathetic , however.
Further inappropriate recent augmentation can be seen through the folds of the red dress of the Madonna.
There is a natural thinness to parts of her white shirt, a consequence of ageing paint, but the folds of her shirt and dress are well preserved and retain a crisp sculptural quality.
Subtle nuances and fine details remain intact and the colours saturate strongly.
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Acquired in Palm Springs, U.S.A. in the early 1940s by a private collector;
By inheritance to his daughter;
By whom sold, anonymous sale, New York, Sotheby’s, 24 April 1995, lot 66;
Anonymous sale (‘Property from a Private Collection’), New York, Christie's, 6 April 2006, lot 247, where acquired by the present owner.
R. Ward Bissell, Artemisia Gentileschi and the Authority of Art: Critical Reading and Catalogue Raisonné, University Park, Pennsylvania 1999, pp. 332–33, reproduced fig. 233 (possibly as Paolo Finoglia);
A. Grassi, Artemisia Gentileschi, Pisa 2017, p. 183, reproduced (as Artemisia Gentileschi).
Though long considered to date to Artemisia’s Florentine period (1614–20), this painting has been recently re-examined and now seems more likely to date to the early 1630s during Artemisia’s first few years in Naples. Artemisia’s reputation will have preceded her there, and she seems to have been well-acquainted with patrons and collectors in Naples from the moment of her arrival. She collaborated with many of the city’s native painters and influenced both their palettes and their painterly style; the biographer Bernardo De' Dominici tells us that she had a lasting effect on the art of Massimo Stanzione among others. This painting may be closely compared with Artemisia’s masterpiece in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Esther before Ahasuerus, from 1630–35, both in the treatment of the silken drapery, ruffs and cuffs, and the soft, puffy flesh tones.
The subject of the painting has been associated with Saint Catherine of Alexandria; however, apart from her gender and martyr-palm, there is little to provide any certainty of such an identification. It is however interesting to note that no painting has ever definitively been associated with a just-finished painting of Saint Catherine that Artemisia mentions in a letter to Andrea Cioli, Secretary to the Grand Duke of Tuscany Cosimo II. On 11 December 1635 Artemisia writes to Cioli in Florence offering him 'un quatro che un pezzo fa ho finito con l’Imagine di Santa Caterina dedicato per V.S. Ill.ma come per un altra mia li scrissi mesi sono...'. Cioli appears to have reacted favourably to the offer because in a follow-up letter dated 11 February 1636 Artemisia seeks Cioli’s instructions as to whether the painting should be shipped to him or delivered in person.
The attribution to Artemisia Gentileschi has been accepted by Keith Christiansen, Riccardo Lattuada, Nicola Spinosa and Dr Maria Cristina Terzaghi, among others.1
1 Both Riccardo Lattuada and Nicola Spinosa prefer a dating to Artemisia's Florentine period.