The oil on canvas, 3ft 2in x 2ft 5in (96 x 75cm), shows the ancient Roman heroine preparing to commit suicide following her rape. It was knocked down to a European collector for €4m/£3.4m plus buyer’s premium at Artcurial’s sale of November 13, easily exceeding its high estimate of €800,000.
The result improved on the price of Gentileschi’s oil of the same subject which sold at Dorotheum in 2018 for €1.6m as well as the previous auction high for the Italian artist.
Her depiction of St Catherine of Alexandria sold for €1.85m (£1.63m) at Christophe Joron-Derem at Drout in Paris, 2017. That picture now hangs in the National Gallery, which bought it from London dealership Robilant & Voena last year.
The London museum plans to stage the first major exhibition of Artemisia Gentileschi’s work in Britain next year, bringing together 35 pictures from collections around the world.
Artemisia (1593-c.1656) was the daughter of Italian artist Orazio (1563-1639).
He is the focus of a public appeal by the National Gallery, which is seeking the final £2m to buy his monumental Finding of Moses.
It is owned by Graham Kirkham, founder of furniture retailer DFS, and costs a total of £22m. The net cost to the gallery would be £19.5m through a private treaty sale being arranged by Sotheby’s and Pyms Gallery.