During a recent auction of 19th-Century Paintings & Drawings at Sotheby’s in Paris, the painting Mary Magdalene in Ecstasy, by Artemisia Gentileschi (1593-1654) was sold for a whopping €865,500 ($1.18m) — the highest price achieved for a work by the artist, well over its estimated value of €200,000-300,000.
Mary Magdalene in Ecstasy is not dated, but believed to be one of Artemisia’s early works from between 1613 and 1620. The location of the oil on canvas painting had been hidden for some 80 years and was uncovered in a private collection in southern France. The only previous reference to the painting was a 20th-century photo in black and white, but the painting is rich in drama, color, composition and a chiaro-scuro light effect influenced by Caravaggio.
Artemisia, born in 1593, was the daughter of the Tuscan painter Orazio Gentileschi and studied painting in his workshop. She was the first woman ever to be accepted into the Accademia delle Arti di Disegno in Florence where she had a huge success. She became one of the very few women painters to achieve recognition in the male-dominated era of post-Renaissance art.