According to the Book of Genesis, the pious Lot and his family were advised by angels to flee the city of Sodom before God destroyed it for its sinfulness. Lot’s wife famously disobeyed God’s command not to look back at the burning city and was transformed into a pillar of salt (look for her in this painting). Believing their family the last people on earth, Lot’s daughters conspired to continue the human race by getting their father drunk and seducing him. The subject usually formed part of a series of biblical images of seduction, with the underlying theme of the power of women to lead men astray. Artemisia Gentileschi, however, toned down the overt sexuality of the story, giving her figures more dignity and a deeper psychological interaction.
Though having worked in Rome, Florence, and Venice, by the time she painted Lot and His Daughters, Artemisia Gentileschi headed her own successful workshop in Naples. She was admired and imitated by many painters, including Bernardo Cavallino, to whom this painting was once attributed. Her powerful figures, rich colors, and dramatic compositions won her fame and commissions throughout Europe.