Artemisia Gentileschi (1593-1654)
Self-Portrait with Lute, c. 1617-1618
Oil on canvas - 65.5 x 50.2 cm
Hartford, Wadsworth Atheneum
Photo : Wadsworth Atheneum
3/4/14 - Acquisition - Hartford, Wadsworth Atheneum - The Atheneum Museum recently purchased, with the intervention of Christie’s New York, a Self-Portrait with Lute by Artemisia Gentileschi. While the paintings attributed to this artist often come under debate among specialists, this one, rediscovered in 1998, appears to be unanimously accepted. It was published by Gianni Papi in 2000 and was included in the 2011-2012 retrospective in Milan and in Paris at the Musée Maillol organized by Roberto Contini and Francesco Solinas. The work was painted around 1617-1618 during Artemisia’s stay in Florence, perhaps a commission from Cosimo II of Medici, mentioned in 1638 in the inventory of the Medici villa at Artimino where it is described as "the portrait of Artimisia [sic] by her hand playing the lute." The measurements correspond perfectly.
Lute players, be it men or women, are classic elements found in Caravaggesque paintings. To quote only the most recent acquisitions mentioned here on this site, there is for example the one by Valentin de Boulogne acquired by the Metropolitan in 2008, the Ter Brugghen which joined the collections at the Fitzwilliam Museum in 2010 and the Honthorst purchased last year by Montreal. There is at least another known and acknowledged painting by Artemisia representing this subject, residing at the Galleria Spada in Rome, at times considered as a Saint Cecilia. The exhibition at the Musée Maillol presented two other women playing the lute but with disputed attributions. The most famous self-portrait by the artist is the one found in the British royal collection where she represents herself as an allegory of painting.
The work will not be on view until next year, at which time it will appear among the European paintings when the Morgan Memorial Building reopens after extensive renovation. This self-portrait was acquired thanks to the endowment fund created after a recent donation of 9.6 million dollars made by Charles H. Schwartz.