A previously unknown Self-Portrait as Saint Catherine by the Italian Baroque painter Artemisia Gentileschi sold at Drouot in Paris on 19 December for an artist record of €2,360,600 (€1.850m at the hammer, against an estimate of €300,000-€400,000). The work, which dates from the same period (1614-16) as another Saint Catherine picture by the artist held by the Uffizi, was discovered by auctioneer Christophe Joron-Derem and presented in his sale of European paintings.
Lionised as an icon of feminist empowerment and artistic accomplishment since the 1970s, Gentileschi’s acclaim is now second only to that of Caravaggio among 17th-century Italian artists. A recent mini-survey of work at the Museo di Roma situating her among other painters of the era was a great success, but it also demonstrated that her existing works are inconsistent in quality.
Self-Portrait as Saint Catherine, however, is easily the finest of several recently rediscovered paintings by Gentileschi, including Magdalen in Ecstasy, which was also found in France and sold at Sotheby’s Paris in 2014 for $1,179,832, the artist’s previous record.