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Women Artists

The lives and works of creative women


Self-Portrait as the Allegory of Painting (La Pittura)


RCIN 405551

Artemisia Gentileschi was one of the most successful painters in seventeenth century Italy, when few women artists were formally recognised. She trained with her father, Orazio, and worked in Rome, Florence and Naples. In the late 1630s Gentileschi worked at the court of Charles I and Henrietta Maria in London.

This energetic self-portrait is the only known firmly-attributed work by Gentileschi which survives from her stay in London. The artist depicts herself in a challenging pose, in the act of painting. The work is also allegorical; in classical tradition, ‘painting’ was represented by a woman. Here, holding a brush and palette, Gentileschi identifies herself as this personification, which her unique position as a female painter and model allowed.

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