Artemisia Gentileschi self-portrait to lead Christie's Old Masters at $5m

Self-portrait as a Lute Player, a fantastic and rare work from Artemisia Gentileschi, will highlight Christie's Old Master Paintings Part I on January 29 in New York.

Artemisia Gentileschi Self-Portrait
Self-Portrait as a Lute Player is considered among the finest of Gentileschi's works

The arresting oil on canvas is valued at $3m-5m. It was previously lost to scholars until it emerged in a private European collection in 1998.

One of the key artists of the Baroque period, Gentileschi (1593-1654) was born in Rome and is described by Christie's as "among the boldest and most powerfully expressive woman painters in history".

Despite her relative poverty, Gentileschi's work attained popularity during her lifetime and featured in some of the most illustrious collections in Europe, including King Charles I of England and King Philip IV of Spain.

The present work dates to circa 1616-1617, just as Gentileschi had been accepted as a member of the Accademia del Disegno in Florence. It was likely commissioned by Cosimo II de' Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany and a prominent member of the legendary art collecting family.

Also set to star is Giavanni Domenico Tiepolo's The Dancing Dogs, described by the auction house as "a ravishing depiction of an 18th century villegiatura, an extended summer holding in Venetians' country estates on the mainland."

The work, along with its pendant Dancing the Minuet, last sold at Christie's in London in 1929. Considered one of the finest works in Tiepolo's oeuvre, it is estimated at $1.2m-2.3m.

Sotheby's Old Master Drawing auction will also be held on January 29, starring Tiepolo's Incontro al Molo: A 'Codega' Showing the Way to a Noble Couple on a Molo, which will sell for $600,000-800,000.

The January old master sales are important to the market, setting the pace for the old master auctions throughout the year, especially those held in London in the summer.

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