A portray from the Royal Assortment of England has been reattributed to celebrated feminine Baroque painter Artemisia Gentileschi after it was present in “very poor situation” in a storeroom on the Hampton Court docket Palace. A spokesperson for the Royal Cultural Belief confirmed with Hyperallergic that Gentileschi’s “Susanna and the Elders” (c. 1638–39) had been uncovered in 2018 and has undergone intense conservation efforts over the last 5 years, throughout which the attribution to the artist was made.
The portray, previously attributed to “the French College,” had sat within the storeroom for over a century previous to its rediscovery and restoration, a statement from the Royal Assortment Belief notes. The work is believed to have been created when Gentileschi had joined her father, Italian painter Orazio Gentileschi, in London throughout the 1630s, to help as a courtroom painter underneath King Charles I and Queen Henrietta Maria.
Gentileschi’s portray presents the biblical story of “Susanna and the Elders” from the Ebook of Daniel, by which a married Hebrew girl named Susanna is confronted by two spying males who try and drive her into sexual activity whereas she privately bathed in her out of doors gardens. Susanna refused the Elders, who served as governing judges, and so they falsely accused her of adultery with a younger man — a criminal offense that warranted a dying sentence. Susanna was spared as soon as the noble Jewish youth Daniel questioned the Elders individually and uncovered the discrepancies of their particular person recounts. The lads had been subsequently put to dying for mendacity in Susanna’s title and making an attempt to place an finish to an harmless life.
Gentileschi, who had painted variations of “Susanna and the Elders” all through her profession, was drawn to the story because it pertained to her own experiences of rape by the hands of her father’s buddy, Italian painter Agostino Tassi, and subsequent torture-induced testimony throughout the trial that later led to Tassi’s conviction. Gentileschi, referred to as one of the achieved painters of the Baroque period, was celebrated not just for her technical prowess akin to that of Caravaggio, but in addition for her woman-focused material portrayed via a feminist lens.
Niko Munz, an artwork historian and one of many Royal Assortment Belief curators who helped uncover the misattributed work, acknowledged that the portray “seems to have been commissioned by Queen Henrietta Maria whereas her residences had been being redecorated for a royal start,” highlighting that the work was first hung over a brand new hearth emblazoned with the Queen’s private cipher. “It was very a lot the Queen’s portray,” Munz mentioned.
The portray underwent intense conservations resulting from its poor situation, together with the cautious removing of gathered filth, mud, and extreme varnish layers and non-paint components to disclose the true composition. The workforce additionally eliminated extra canvas strips used to enlarge the portray someday after its creation, relined the canvas, retouched outdated damages, and commissioned a brand new body. X-radiography and infrared reflectography additionally revealed the modifications Gentileschi made to the composition from the unique drawing and underpainting to the ultimate piece.
Now, the newly attributed “Susanna and the Elders” is on show alongside the revered painter’s “Self-Portrait because the Allegory of Portray (‘La Pittura’)” (c. 1638–39) and her father’s London-era portray “Joseph and Potiphar’s Spouse” (c. 1632) on the Windsor Citadel in the UK till the tip of April 2024.