Britain’s National Gallery has just acquired a self portrait of Artemisia Gentileschi discovered in 2017, for £3.6, or about $4.8 million USD.
Gentileschi’s access to training as a painter came at a terrible price. Agostino Tassi, the painter friend her father hired as an art teacher, made ever-more menacing advances that culminated in rape. As the father of a “dishonoured” 18- year-old daughter, Orazio brought charges.
The resulting trial was a cause célèbre as witness after witness attested to Tassi’s bad character – it seemed he had previously murdered his wife…. Yet Tassi walked away because the Pope, for whom he was painting frescoes, protected him.
Artemisia was tortured as a part of the trial. Four years later she painted this in Florence where she rebuilt her life and career. In the painting she portrays herself as Saint Catherine of Alexandria, standing next to a broken wheel of torture.