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Artemisia Gentileschi (Rome 1593-Naples 1652)

Self-Portrait as the Allegory of Painting (La Pittura) c.1638-9

Oil on canvas | 98.6 x 75.2 cm (support, canvas/panel/stretcher external) | RCIN 405551

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Artemisia was the most successful female artist of her day. In this confident, energetic painting she presents herself boldly as the allegory of Painting. Her loose hair indicates her creative fervour, the mask on a gold chain signifies imitation, and her iridescent dress demonstrates mastery of colour. But Artemisia does something none of her male contemporaries could: she gives the allegory of Painting her own features, creating a uniquely self-referential image.