Artemisia Gentileschi's Mary Magdalene sets new world record

Artemisia Gentileschi's Mary Magdalene in Ecstasy has sold for $1.1m against a $407,352 estimate - an increase of 188.5% and a new world record for the artist at auction.

The 17th century painting crossed the block in a sale of old master and 19th century paintings at Sotheby's Paris on June 26, having recently been rediscovered in the south of France.

Mary Magdalene Gentileschi
Gentileschi's Mary Magdalene in Ecstasy was rediscovered in the south of France

Despite the misogyny that prevailed at all levels of society during the era, Gentileschi (circa 1593-1636) was accepted (to a degree) and is today regarded as one of the greatest artists of her generation.

She was the first woman ever to be accepted into the Accademia di Arte del Disegno in Florence and became a well known figure in Italy, forming a close friendship with Galileo among others.

Pierre Etienne, head of old master paintings at Sotheby's Paris, commented on the painting prior to the sale: "To be lucky enough to see a work of this quality reappear on the market is a source of great emotion to me as a specialist in old master paintings!"

"It is a splendid and superb Artemisia! It is more than just a painting - it is theatre! Almost opera!"

Other lots in the sale included Paul-Cesar Helleu's Portrait of Mrs Helleu with an Umbrella, which made $1m against a $203,676 estimate - an increase of 429%.

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