art auctions - Artemisia Gentileschi (1593-after 1654) and Onofrio Palumbo (1606 - circa 1656),
Artemisia Gentileschi (1593-after 1654) and Onofrio Palumbo (1606 - circa 1656), "Abraham and the Three Angels," oil on canvas, 144.5 x 200.8 cm. estimate €150,000–200,000

Fine Art Auctions > Fede Galizia, Artemisia Gentileschi, Orsola Maddalena Caccia: Works by important 17th-century female painters for sale at Dorotheum’s Old Master Paintings auction.

Venue: Palais Dorotheum (
Public Viewing: April 22 – May 3, 2023
Auction: May 3

From the organizers:

Only recently, have the female artists of the 17th century begun to receive the recognition and acclaim they deserve. Women painters of this period, who lived and worked alongside the ‘old master painters’ of art history, are themselves increasingly becoming the focus of art historical research and the subject of exhibitions. Paintings by several of these increasingly sought-after female artists will be offered at Dorotheum’s Old Master Paintings sale on 3 May 2023, including important works by Fede Galizia, Artemisia Gentileschi, and Orsola Maddalena Caccia.

Dorotheum specialist Mark MacDonnell describes a highlight of the sale, Judith with the Head of Holofernes by the Italian female painter Fede Galizia, as being of museum quality. “It is a previously unknown masterpiece, an important rediscovery of a signed work by this significant female artist” (estimate €200,000–300,000).

Fede Galizia (1578-1630), "Judith with the head of Holofernes," oil on canvas, 127 x 95.5 cm, estimate €200,000–300,000
Fede Galizia (1578-1630), “Judith with the head of Holofernes,” oil on canvas, 127 x 95.5 cm, estimate €200,000–300,000

Fede Galizia (1578–1630) was the daughter of the Milanese miniature painter Nunzio Galizia. She was taught by her father and had already made an international name for herself as a painter at the age of about 20. She developed her own formal pictorial language and is noted as a pioneer in the treatment of still-life painting. She is increasingly also being recognized for her religious paintings. In the course of her career, Galizia repeatedly returned to the biblical subject of Judith and Holofernes which embodies the female struggle for power and recognition: in Fede Galizia’s case, very concretely in the world of art production. Galizia’s Judith is presented as the determined, strong, and proud heroine of the tale while, in contrast, many of her male colleagues chose to show Judith as a cruel murderess, placing the horror of Holofernes’ death in center stage – a very different interpretation of the narrative of the tragic story.

Artemisia Gentileschi (1593–1654), one of the most celebrated female painters of her time, is the author of another highlight of the sale – a canvas depicting Abraham and the Three Angels which was created in collaboration with Onofrio Palumbo. Artemisia also received her training from her father Orazio Gentileschi, one of Caravaggio’s earliest followers, but went on to have a hugely successful independent career of her own (estimate €150,000–200,000).

Orsola Maddalena Caccia (1596-1676), "Saint Catherine of Alexandria," oil on canvas, 100 x 72 cm, estimate €20,000–30,000
Orsola Maddalena Caccia (1596-1676), “Saint Catherine of Alexandria,” oil on canvas, 100 x 72 cm, estimate €20,000–30,000

Another female artist whose work is increasingly gaining attention, Orsola Maddalena Caccia (1596–1676), is represented in the auction by her painting Saint Catherine of Alexandria. She was the daughter of Mannerist painter Guglielmo Caccia and was trained by him. At a young age, she followed four of her sisters into Holy Orders and became a nun. After joining the Ursuline order, she continued her work as a painter and maintained a flourishing workshop within the convent walls. Although she was influenced by her father’s technique, Caccia developed a personal style that is attentive to detail, as well as to developments in contemporary Lombard and Flemish painting (estimate €20,000–30,000).

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