Artemisia Gentileschi: Lot and His Daughters

An in-painting tour

Lot and His Daughters (about 1636–38) by Artemisia Gentileschi (Italian, 1593–1652/53)The Toledo Museum of Art

According to the Book of Genesis in the Bible, the pious Lot and his family were advised by angels to flee the city of Sodom before God destroyed it for its sinfulness.

The angels warned them not to look back at the destruction.

Lot’s wife disobeyed and was transformed into a pillar of salt.

But Lot and his two daughters took shelter in a cave in the hills.

Fearing they might be the last people on earth, Lot’s daughters conspired to continue the human race by getting their father drunk and seducing him.

Artemisia Gentileschi shows Lot leaning toward one of his daughters, holding a glass of wine as he moves to embrace her.

His indecorously exposed leg and bare foot indicate his inebriated state.

Gentileschi subtly highlights the impending result of Lot’s drunkenness by connecting him to his daughter not just through physical contact, but also through their parallel poses.

But she also subtly indicates their wills: While Lot’s bare foot rests unsteadily on the ground, suggesting his lack of resolve...

...his daughter’s foot rests firmly on a stone, symbolizing her resolute state of mind.

Artists often treated the subject of Lot and his daughters as a ribald scene, with a grotesquely drunken Lot encouraged by his lusty, seductive daughters.

However, Gentileschi—who achieved a level of success unprecedented for a woman artist at the time—restrained the overt sexuality of the story, giving her figures more dignity and a deeper psychological interaction.

Credits: Story

Toledo Museum of Art
Toledo, Ohio

© 2020 Toledo Museum of Art

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