Self-Portrait as the Allegory of Painting (c.1638-9) by Artemisia Gentileschi

Self-Portrait as the Allegory of Painting - Artemisia Gentileschi - 1638 - 1639

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Artwork Information

TitleSelf-Portrait as the Allegory of Painting
ArtistArtemisia Gentileschi
Date1638 - 1639
MediumOil on Canvas
Dimensions98.6 x 75.2 cm
Art MovementBaroque
Current LocationRoyal Collection (Buckingham Palace), London, UK

About Self-Portrait as the Allegory of Painting

The artwork “Self-Portrait as the Allegory of Painting” was created by the artist Artemisia Gentileschi between the years 1638 and 1639. This oil on canvas masterpiece measures 98.6 by 75.2 centimeters and represents the Baroque movement in art. Functioning as a self-portrait, this work is currently housed within the Royal Collection at Buckingham Palace in London, United Kingdom. The genre of the artwork clearly depicts the artist in the act of painting, thereby acting as an allegorical representation of the discipline itself.

In this sophisticated and expressive piece of art, Artemisia Gentileschi portrays herself as the personification of Painting, which is an innovative approach to the traditional self-portrait. Represented in a three-quarter pose, the artist is seen looking over her shoulder, her gaze focused intently on the unseen canvas she is in the process of creating. Her hand is delicately poised, holding a thin paintbrush with which she renders her artwork.

The character of the artwork is illuminated by the use of chiaroscuro, a technique typical of the Baroque period, which emphasizes the dramatic interplay of light and shadow. The fluidity and rich texture of the green dress she wears are brought to life through vibrant highlights and deep folds that convey a sense of movement and volume. A chain with a pendant, likely a symbol of the creative pride or emblem of the artist’s trade, graces her neck, while her other arm extends towards her work, signifying her active engagement in the creative process.

The subdued background allows the figure to emerge with pronounced vitality, characteristic of Gentileschi’s ability to capture the depth and emotion of her subjects. The refined representation of the artist’s facial features and the suggestion of deep concentration evoke her mental immersion in the artistic endeavor, reflecting the passion and dedication inherent to the mastery of her craft. This artwork serves as a compelling tribute to the creative spirit and the role of the painter, revealing Gentileschi not only as a skilled artist but also as a profound interpreter of the allegorical language prevalent in the era’s artistic milieu.

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