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National Gallery launches online curator's tour of Artemisia exhibition



One of the side-effects of November's Covid lockdown is the temporary closure of the National Gallery's universally acclaimed exhibition exploring the work of Artemisia Gentileschi (opened 3 October 2020, running until 24 January 2021).


The pandemic, and subsequent restrictions on travel – both within the UK and from abroad - have also meant that many people who wanted to come to London and see this once in a lifetime exhibition, are simply not able to get to the Gallery.


So the National Gallery has just announced that it is launching the opportunity for everyone to experience the ‘show of the season(The Daily Telegraph) from anywhere, and at any time, in a new curator-led on demand film that takes you on an online tour of the exhibition.


The new on-demand tour means that viewers can join exhibition curator, Letizia Treves, on a 30-minute online tour of this five-star show to hear Artemisia’s amazing story and witness the violence and drama of her best-known paintings.


You can book the online Artemisia Curator’s Tour now at nationalgallery.org.uk/whats-on/artemisia-curator-led-exhibition-film and access the film from any device: mobile, tablet or computer. It costs £8 to book the Artemisia Curator’s Tour and it will be available until the exhibition closes.


Letizia Treves, the National Gallery James and Sarah Sassoon Curator of Later Italian, Spanish, and French 17th-century Paintings, says: ‘This exhibition and Artemisia’s moment in the spotlight has been a long time coming – the show was postponed from April due to the first lockdown, and now it has temporarily closed due to the second. Although this film cannot replace the experience of seeing the exhibition in person at the National Gallery, it will allow us to share Artemisia’s story and paintings with as many people as possible, in particular those who cannot make it to Trafalgar Square right now.’


Dr Gabriele Finaldi, Director of the National Gallery, says: ‘I am very proud that the National Gallery is one of the first museums to respond to the current situation and offer a curator-led film for those unable to get to the Gallery and see this superlative exhibition due to lockdown; international and domestic barriers to travel and for those who would rather wait a while longer before returning in person. Through our digital initiatives the National Gallery will continue to be open 24/7 with great art for everyone, anywhere, online.’


Artemisia Gentileschi, Self Portrait as the Allegory of Painting (La Pittura), about 1638-9, Royal Collection Trust / © Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2019



ABOUT THE EXHIBITION For the first time in the UK, a major monographic exhibition explores the work of Artemisia Gentileschi (1593–1654 or later).


The inspiration for this exhibition is the National Gallery’s acquisition of Artemisia’s Self Portrait as Saint Catherine of Alexandria (about 1615–17), the first painting by the artist to enter a UK public collection.

At a time when women artists were not easily accepted, Artemisia Gentileschi was exceptional. Her career spanned more than forty years and she gained fame and admiration across Europe, counting leading rulers among her patrons. She was the first woman to gain membership to the artists’ academy in Florence.


Although Artemisia was greatly admired during her lifetime, she was essentially rediscovered in the 20th century. Certain elements of her biography – particularly her rape as a young woman and the torture she endured during the trial that followed – have sometimes overshadowed discussions about her artistic achievements, but today she is recognised as one of the most gifted painters of the Italian Baroque period. Her art and life continue to inspire novels, films, documentaries, musical and theatrical productions.


Artemisia presents a highly selective survey of the artist’s career, bringing together around thirty of her works from both public institutions and private collections around the world, along with letters and contemporary documents - the majority of the loans in the exhibition have never been seen in the UK before.


Read Timeless Travels review of the exhibition