The National Gallery has selected Wood Street Library as the final stop for Self Portrait as Saint Catherine of Alexandria (about 1615–17) by the celebrated artist of the Italian Baroque, Artemisia Gentileschi.
The painting will be displayed as part of the E17 Art Trail, which this year is celebrating radical, pioneering and extraordinary women. Displaying Artemisia’s self-portrait in Wood Street Library is a key part of Waltham Forest London Borough of Culture’s commitment to providing access to inspiring works of art in local venues across the borough.
The painting has been on tour since spring/summer 2018 and has visited a Yorkshire GP surgery, a Newcastle girls high school, a Glasgow Women’s Library and a women’s prison.
Artemisia Gentileschi is considered one of the most accomplished painters among the followers of Caravaggio, whom she may have known personally through her father, Orazio. In an era when female artists were not easily accepted, she was the first woman to become a member of the Accademia del Disegno in Florence and had a truly international clientele, including royalty.
Artemisia faced challenges in both her professional and personal life: she was raped by a fellow painter and was subjected to gruelling questioning and physical torture during the trial that ensued. Her biography has long overshadowed her artistic achievements, but today she is recognised as one of the most talented painters of her generation.