In the video here Turquin, who helped with the cataloguing for the auction, discusses the “extraordinary discovery” with Christophe Joron-Derem, the auctioneer who conducted the sale.
The previously unrecorded work had been in the same family for several generations and remained in its original state. It has now added to “the small known oeuvre of Artemesia Gentileschi”, according to Turquin.
The unframed 2ft 4in (71cm) square oil on canvas sold for a hammer price of €1.85m (£1.63m) at the auction held at the Hotel Drouot on December 19. It surpassed the previous recorded high of €720,000 (then £626,085) paid at Sotheby’s Paris in June 2014 for Artemesia Gentileschi’s portrait of Mary Magdelene.
The painting depicts the artist in the role of St Catherine and is similar in composition and dimensions to another painting now in the Uffizi in Florence.
It was dated to c.1614-16, corresponding to the artist’s Florentine period when her work was still influenced by that of her father, Orazio Gentileschi, as well as Caravaggio who had died five years earlier.
However, her style was “softer, more feminine and delicate than her fathers” according to Joron-Derem, who described her as a “remarkable painter”, “truly strong woman” and “an icon of feminism worldwide”.