Paying for Artemisia
SIR – The National Gallery has recently acquired a superb painting by Artemisia Gentileschi, undoubtedly the most celebrated woman painter in the history of European art (“Gallery ‘overpaid £1.3m’ for work by female artist”, report, September 12).
It is the first work by her to enter a public collection in Britain and, remarkably, the first work by a woman artist to have entered the National Gallery since 1974.
Following its sale at an auction in Paris, it was bought by London-based Old Master dealers. Once an export licence had been granted by the French state, it was acquired by the National Gallery for £3.6 million. We knew that several other potential buyers were prepared to pay more.
Not a single penny of public funding was used for the acquisition. The purchase was supported by the National Gallery Trust, the American Friends of the National Gallery, the Art Fund and some private donors, to whom we are grateful. Artemisia’s Self-portrait as St Catherine is currently undergoing conservation work and will go on show to the public, to whom it now belongs, in the new year. Dr Gabriele Finaldi
Director, The National Gallery London WC2