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Lot and His Daughters by Artemisia Gentileschi is dated to around 1636-1638. By this point in her career, she was an entirely rounded, experienced painter, who counted significant patrons in a number of different Italian cities, as well as abroad.
This painting features Lot from the Book of Genesis, with his two daughters sat either side. His wife is present in the background, no longer in human form after failing to follow his instructions, as explained in the Bible. Artemisia called upon themes from the Bible many times within her career, sometimes more than once.
What is the Story of Lot and His Daughters?
The Lot and His Daughters, from the Book of Genesis, tells of a family who have fleed the city of Sodom. Lot's wife was turned into salt after being warned not to look around, and it is believed that her new form is included by Artemisia somewhere in the background. Those who survived are captured in the foreground, and have chosen to hide in a cave.
This sad tale to a further turn later on, when the daughters seduced their father in order to continue the family line. The moral from this story is therefore to warn of the damage that can be done from not heeding a warning, and the carnage that could then follow as a result.
Those unfamiliar with the story behind this painting will initially spot three main figures, set in front of a swirling background. The stunning drapery incorporated here is perhaps the most impressive technical part of the work, and something that stands out first of all. It is the mustard tones of the younger lady's dress which contrast again the blue cloth that lies across her left leg.
To the left hand side we find an older lady with a jug, attempting to comfort the old man in the centre of the scene. She offers water to him, and leans over in a supportive manner. Crucially, light is given to the lady on the right, signifying her importance within this painting. She also holds something in her left hand, that is placed on a table to her side.
In the distance we can spot a lively, almost chaotic scene. Some buildings can perhaps be seen, and the cloudy sky is dark and moody. Typically, Artemisia would not spare much time for her backgrounds, leading one to assume that the one here serves some relevancy to the original story of Lot and His Daughters.
Size, Medium and Attribution
This huge painting measures 230.5 cm in height by 182.9 cm in width. It was completed using oil on canvas, which is highly common for the Baroque era. Bernardo Cavallini and Domenico Gargiulo have both been suggested as the creators of this piece, but today it is now generally regarded as from Artemisia's hand instead.
Artemisia was unfairly treated by historians soon after her passing, with many passing her works of as others'. This was mainly to increase their values, but in recent years there has been an attempt to reverse this trend, leading to her oeuvre expanding substantially. Even its present owners, Toledo Museum of Art, inititally purchased it as a work by Bernardo Cavallini.
A larger image of the original painting can be found below. This is necessary for Lot and His Daughters, which is a large piece with considerable detail. Thankfully, the piece is also in better condition than a number of other paintings attributed to the artist, and it has clearly been well looked after over the years that have passed since it was first completed in the early to mid 17th century.
Lot and His Daughters