The National Gallery

2020   |  300 × 245mm   |  256pp

Artimesia Cover

The Times Art Book of the Year 2020. Nothing has been straightforward in 2020. The National Gallery’s much-anticipated exhibition of the work of Artemsia Gentileschi was due to open on 4 April. The paintings arrived, the catalogues arrived, and then the coronavirus arrived and the gallery closed. But six months later they valiantly managed to get the show open in circumstances that would have been unimaginable at the beginning of the year. In spite of booked time slots and gappy queues, face masks and social distancing, the exhibition opened to a constellation of five star reviews and the limited capacity quickly sold out … only for the exhibition to have to close again in the second lockdown … and the third.

‘She’s feisty,’ wrote Alasdair Sooke in the Daily Telegraph, ‘this Artemisia: a thoroughly modern woman. Don’t miss this exhibition of historical art that feels thrillingly contemporary, from start to finish.’ For Will Gompertz at the BBC the show was a triumph for the curator Letizia: ‘There is an art to exhibiting art. Good curators are more than specialist academics with arcane knowledge they share from time to time with us in an exhibition. Good curators are storytellers with a sense of theatre and occasion. Good curators are impresarios.’