Self-portrait by Artemisia Gentileschi (cropped)

Gentileschi self-portrait tours to GP surgery and girls' school

Bethan Kapur, 09.05.2019
Masterpiece will be displayed at a range of unusual venues
The self-portrait of the 17th-century Italian Baroque artist Artemisia Gentileschi, which was acquired by the National Gallery for £3.6m last year, has embarked on tour to a range of unexpected, non-museum venues. 

Its latest port of call is a GP surgery in the market town of Pocklington, Yorkshire. The portrait will be on display at Pocklington Group Practice until this weekend as part of a partnership with the charity Paintings in Hospitals. Public visits and community viewings have been scheduled at the surgery.

The piece is due to travel to several more unusual destinations across the UK this summer. Details of the venues are yet to be announced, but they will include a girls’ school in East London, which is on the E17 Art Trail as part of the Waltham Forest London Borough of Culture 2019 festival.

The tour began at Glasgow Women’s Library to coincide with International Women’s Day in March. Susan Foister, the director of collections at the National Gallery, said: “We chose places that we thought might connect with [Gentileschi’s] story and how she dealt with adversity.”

So far the visits have been a success. Foister said: “I know that the library was very pleased because they had people coming in who hadn’t come before, hopefully it has opened up Glasgow Women’s Library who weren’t aware of it. Obviously a GP’s practice is slightly different.”

Although surgery is not looking to widen visitors in the same way, it is hoped that the piece may bring different benefits, such as promoting the link between art and wellbeing. 

Berni Judge, the managing partner of Pocklington Group Practice, said the surgery was extremely excited to be working with the National Gallery and Paintings in Hospitals. “We know our staff and patients are going to be thrilled to have her here. We want to be able to share Artemisia’s stay with as many of our local communities as possible.” 

Judge said it was important for visitors to adhere to the scheduled visiting times so that the surgery can still run as smoothly as possible.

One aim of the tour is to allow people who don’t live near a city that holds a gallery to access art. Amisha Karia, the head of collections, loans and programming at Paintings in Hospitals, said: “We believe art should be for everyone and we are committed to using art to support better health and wellbeing.” 

Karia said the charity would work with Pocklington Group Practice to introduce many more paintings to the surgery over the next three years.