Oil on panel, 48.5cm by 60.5cm.
The Book of Genesis relates Lot’s flight from the burning cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, during which his wife was turned to a pillar of salt and he was seduced by his two daughters whilst he was in a drunken slumber, hoping thus to continue the family line.
In the 18th Century, the painting was recorded by Brownlow, 9th Earl of Exeter (1725-1793), as being by Velasquez.
It is, in fact, a copy after a Gentileschi original which is now in the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa.
Gentileschi’s early work in Rome was mostly collaborative, but his meeting with Caravaggio (1571-1610) and the latter’s influence, proved transformative.
After a period in Genoa, he spent two years at the French court of the Queen Regent Marie de Medici, before travelling to England in 1626, where he would spend the rest of his life.
He painted for the 1st Duke of Buckingham and at the court of Charles I and was a particular favourite of Henrietta Maria, for whom he painted the ceiling in the Queen’s House in Greenwich.