A Magdalene by Artemisia Gentileschi arrives at the Doge’s Palace in Venice: long-term loan

With a long-term loan, a Magdalene in ecstasy of Artemisia Gentileschi enriches the tour of the Doge’s Palace in Venice from today, Saturday, June 11, 2022.

From June 11, a Venice, The Ducal Palace houses a work by Artemisia Gentileschi, which sanctions the return to the lagoon for an art history heroine and a famous artist. IN Quarantia Civil Vecchia Room actually Mary Magdalene in ecstasya work from a private collection that inaugurates the exhibition Guests at the Palazzo and it reaches the Doge’s Palace with one long-term loans.

In the painting, Mary Magdalene is not remorseful, but in ecstasy, with her head tilted back and eyes closed in a mysterious rapture. The light source coming from below increases the intimate drama of the scene. Bag and face express a raw sensuality that this subject was painted by a woman with such expressive intensity, increased its value in the eyes of the collectors of the past, today it continues to radiate a charm that conquers the contemporary viewer. The work arrives at the Doge’s Palace after the exhibition Her hand: Artemisia Gentileschi and female artists in Italy 1500-1800 at the Detroit Institute of Artswhich closed on May 29th.

That the relationship between Venice and Artemisia Gentileschi it has only become more clearly delineated in recent years. Today we know that the painter stayed in the city for about three years, between 1626 and 1629, testimonies referring to academic and literary circles tell us about her presence and activities. Artemisia in Venice came in contact with some of the greatest exponents of the literary culture of the time, and her presence did not go unnoticed: many poets dedicated eloquent verses to her, admired her artistic temperament, and involved her in their literary evenings. Among the numerous letters and poems dedicated to her are some verses inserted in a pamphlet printed in 1627 by the Venetian publisher Andrea Muschio, in which three paintings of what is defined as a “Roman painter in Venice” are mentioned.

By the time of the artist’s stay in Venice, the painting Maddalena in ecstasy had already been executed: Critics agree that it dates back to the first half of the 1920s, when Artemisia lived in Rome and was much sought after, her clients being princes and cardinals. The work therefore seems to anticipate the renewed interest which during the seventeenth century in Serenissima favored descriptions of ‘exemplary’ women. In fact, in 1633, the Gallery of Famous Women was published by Francesco Pona, examining the figure of Mary Magdalene in addition to Lucrezia, a subject treated by Artemisia during her Venetian period. It was probably during the Venetian period that the artist achieved one of his most prestigious tasks: the execution for Philip IV of Spain of the painting with the story of Hercules and Onfale, destined for the Alcázar in Madrid, the residence of the Spanish royal family.

Artemisia Gentileschi, educated in Rome under the direction of her father Orazio, matured an aesthetic consciousness that adhered to the contrasts of light and shadow typical of Caravaggio’s poetics, which can be found in this painting characterized by a rapid traversation of light, the subject of which seems to translate the fine discussions then held in the Venetian literary academies. In fact, a new way of understanding and representing women by taking shape was promoted not only by poets and writers but also by painters involved in these academic associations. The ambiguous representation of Magdalene, offered in the Galeria by Giambattista Marino, prince of the seventeenth-century Italian poets in contact with various exponents of Venetian culture, was also grafted on this ground, published in 1619. The “Holy sins “were no longer only understood as the repentant one who had left worldly life after a happy conversion, but gave ample space to her beauty, whose splendor, expressed through a lustful value, above all referred to a spiritual grandeur . In line with this assumption, Magdalene is not represented here as a repentant and therefore suffering, but rather trapped in the ecstatic rapture, which is expressed in the bowed head and in the barely hinted smile.

For all information about the visit, consult the Palazzo Ducale’s website.

Pictured, the work of Artemisia Gentileschi

A Magdalene by Artemisia Gentileschi arrives at the Doge’s Palace in Venice: long-term loan

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