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Newly-discovered Artemisia painting sells for record €4.8 million

A newly discovered canvas by the female 17th-century Italian painter Artemisia Gentileschi sold for almost 4.8 million euros on Wednesday, a record for the artist, auction house Artcurial said.

Newly-discovered Artemisia painting sells for record €4.8 million
Artemisia Gentileschi's Lucretia was found among a private collection in France. Photo: Bertrand Guay/AFP

The sale came amid a surge of interest in the rare female baroque painter's extraordinarily dramatic work, and smashed the base estimate of between 600,000 and 800,000 euros.

READ ALSO: Newly discovered work by Italian artist Artemisia Gentileschi up for auction

The painting “Lucretia” depicts the ancient Roman noblewoman who killed herself after being raped, showing her bare-breasted and about to plunge a dagger into her chest.

It was discovered only recently, in a private collection in the southeastern French city of Lyon, where it had been stored unrecognised for some 40 years.

After a “long bidding battle” over the telephone, the painting was sold in Paris for 4,777,000 euros to a European collector, the French auction house said.

It nearly doubled the previous record for her work – 2.8 million euros for a painting of Saint Catherine sold in Paris in 2017.

Detail from Artemisia Gentileschi's Self-Portrait as Saint Catherine of Alexandria.

It is extremely rare for Artemisia works to come on the market.

After years of obscurity, Artemisia (1593-1654) is now recognised as one of the greatest painters of the post-Caravaggio era and one of the few to match the great Baroque master's sense of drama and light.

Her status as of the few female painters of the period has also fuelled a surge of interest in her work and life.

READ ALSO: Artemisia Gentileschi, an Italian Baroque heroine for the #MeToo era

“The interest in older paintings is growing,” said Matthieu Fournier, director of the department of old masters at Artcurial, and art expert Eric Turquin in a statement.

“For the first time we are seeing contemporary art collectors migrate towards classical art”, they added.

Turquin had earlier said the work is “worthy of the great museums of the world” and “comes to us in an exceptional state of conservation”.

In a sign of Artemisia's growing prominence, the National Gallery in London will next year stage the first major exhibition of her work in Britain, bringing together 35 works from around the world.

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LA BELLA VITA

La Bella Vita: Free Italian museum tickets, Sanremo, and real spaghetti carbonara

From seeing Italy's best sights for free to avoiding crimes against Italian food, new weekly newsletter La Bella Vita offers you an essential starting point for eating, talking, drinking and living like an Italian.

La Bella Vita: Free Italian museum tickets, Sanremo, and real spaghetti carbonara

La Bella Vita is our regular look at the real culture of Italy – from language to cuisine, manners to art. This new newsletter will be published weekly and you can receive it directly to your inbox, by going to newsletter preferences in ‘My Account’ or follow the instructions in the newsletter box below.

The cold weather and grey skies mean February is the month when I’m most tempted to stay at home and keep warm, preferably with an Italian hot chocolate. But it’s a shame to stay in when there’s so much to do and see in Italy, even at this time of year.

Carnival season officially kicks off this weekend, bringing much-needed colour and joy to towns and cities across Italy at what would otherwise be a pretty dull time of year. The most famous Carnival of all is of course in Venice, and this year’s edition promises a return to its former grand scale after three years of limited celebrations.

If you’re thinking of attending this year, here’s our quick guide to the events and what to expect:

Venice Carnival: What to expect if you’re attending in 2023

A masked reveller wearing a traditional carnival costume In St Mark's Square, Venice

The 2023 Venice Carnival will start with a floating parade down the Grand Canal on February 4th. Photo by Andrea PATTARO / AFP

Another reason to get out and about this weekend is Domenica al Museo or ‘free museum Sundays’, when museums and other sites open their doors ticket-free on the first Sunday of every month.

As admission to major historical monuments and museums in Italy often costs upwards of €15 per person, there are big savings to be made and the free Sundays scheme is understandably popular among both tourists and residents.

Free entry applies to hundreds of state-run museums, archaeological parks and monuments, including world-famous sites like the Colosseum, Pompeii, Florence’s Galleria dell’Accademia, the Reggia di Caserta and Trieste’s Miramare Castle. See further details in our article:

What you need to know about Italy’s free museum Sundays

There is however at least one good reason to stay in and watch some Italian TV: The Sanremo Music Festival returns on Tuesday, February 7th, and it will likely be the main topic of conversation all week.

If you’re a fan of Eurovision, you’re pretty much guaranteed to love it. But some people don’t find the appeal of the show immediately obvious, to put it mildly.

So what is it about the festival that pulls together an entire nation, regardless of whether they fall into the ‘love it’ or ‘hate it’ camp? We looked at just why this 73-year-old song contest is such an Italian institution.

Why is the Sanremo music festival so important to Italians?

In the latest international Italian food controversy, Italian media reacted with anger and dismay this week to a recipe published in the New York Times for ‘tomato carbonara’, which recommended adding tomato sugo along with the eggs, and replacing pork cheek and pecorino with bacon and parmesan – an adaptation which was described as “provocative”, “disgusting”, and a “declaration of war”.

For anyone who doesn’t want to traumatise their Italian dinner guests or risk sparking a diplomatic incident, here’s the classic recipe plus a look at the rules to follow when making a real Roman-style carbonara:

The ten unbreakable rules for making real pasta carbonara

However, you might be surprised to hear that adding cream – or tomato – to your carbonara recipe isn’t actually the worst food crime you could commit according to Italians.

From fruity pizza toppings to spaghetti bolognese, an international study revealed which of the most common international ‘adaptations’ are seen as most and least offensive.

RANKED: The 11 worst food crimes you can commit according to Italians

Remember if you’d like to have this weekly newsletter sent straight to your inbox you can sign up for it via Newsletter preferences in “My Account”.

Is there an aspect of the Italian way of life you’d like to see us write more about on The Local? Please email me at [email protected]

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