NEW YORK, NY.-
Yesterday evening at Sothebys
New York, Orazio Gentileschis Baroque masterpiece Danaë sold for $30.5 million more than seven times the previous world auction record for the artist. The monumental painting was acquired by the J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, and was the star lot of Sothebys $53.5 million Evening Sale of Master Paintings. Tonights auction capped off a day of Master Week sales that included Master Drawings and The Road to Rome.
Commissioned in 1621 by the nobleman Giovanni Antonio Sauli for his palazzo in Genoa, this fantastic oil on canvas captures a scene from the myth of Danaë in which the daughter of King Acrisius of Argo is spirited away to a secret chamber to dissuade all male suitors from falling in love and impregnating the beauty. While mere mortals are deterred, Jupiter, God of the Sky and Thunder, is not he catches a glimpse and promptly falls in love with the princess, materializing in her bedroom as a shower of gold coins. In Gentileschis rendering, Jupiters arrival is announced by Cupid who pulls back the curtains to reveal Danaë in all her exquisiteness. The Sauli series was amongst Gentileschis most important commissions and also includes a Penitent Magdalene, in a New York private collection, and a Lot and his Daughters, in the J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles.
A figurehead of the Italian Baroque period, Orazio Gentileschi began his career in Rome where he, like many others of his time, worked in close proximity with Roman and visiting artists. By 1600, a young artist by the name of Caravaggio was a constant companion, whose friendship translated to great artistic influence. In his later years, Gentileschi became known as one of the most talented and distinct Caravaggesque painters, a trait that he passed along to his daughter, the most celebrated female artist of the 17th century, Artemesia Gentileschi. The use of color, sensuality and splendor portrayed in Danaë draws together the Caravaggesque naturalism and Gentileschis masterful skill as a Baroque painter.