Pay­ing for Artemisia

The Daily Telegraph - - Letters To The Editor -

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

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