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Getty Museum acquires Gentileschi's 'Danaë' for $30.5 million at Sotheby's New York
Orazio Gentileschi, DanaŽ. Oil on canvas, 1621, 63 Ĺ by 89 ľ in. Sold for $30.5 Million. Photo: Sotheby's.
NEW YORK, NY.- Yesterday evening at Sotheby’s New York, Orazio Gentileschi’s Baroque masterpiece DanaŽ 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 Sotheby’s $53.5 million Evening Sale of Master Paintings. Tonight’s 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 DanaŽ 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 Gentileschi’s rendering, Jupiter’s arrival is announced by Cupid who pulls back the curtains to reveal DanaŽ in all her exquisiteness. The Sauli series was amongst Gentileschi’s 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 DanaŽ draws together the Caravaggesque naturalism and Gentileschi’s masterful skill as a Baroque painter.

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