Painting by 17th Century female artist Artemisia Gentileschi, worth £3.6 million, has been loaned to a women‘s PRISON for inmates to view

The National Gallery has loaned a £3.6million artwork to a women’s prison.

It is the latest move in a scheme to remind people the collection ‘belongs to the nation’. 

HMP Send, in Surrey, hosted a self-portrait by 17th Century female painter Artemisia Gentileschi from May 20 to 22. It is the first painting from a national collection to be shown in a prison.

The jail is one of several ‘unusual and unexpected venues’ the painting, pictured, has visited recently. 

It has also spent time in an East Yorkshire GP surgery, a Newcastle high school and Glasgow Women’s Library.

Director of the National Gallery, Dr Gabriele Finaldi, said: ‘It is unprecedented for the National Gallery to take a great painting into a prison but this tour is turning out to be exceptional in many ways.

‘HMP Send has a remarkable arts programme and we have been very pleased to work closely with them in delivering several special workshops for women prisoners there while Artemisia was visiting.’

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The National Gallery delivered three workshops for up to thirty women prisoners in which they learnt about the artist and the painting itself while it was on display.

The gallery has also donated several books on art subjects, including the Baroque and self portraiture, to help develop the art reference collection of HMP Send Library.

Justice Minister Edward Argar said: ‘We are committed to reducing reoffending and supporting rehabilitation. The arts can play a huge role in achieving these goals.

‘I fully support this initiative by the National Gallery to deliver workshops and bring important artwork inside the prison gates for all to see.’

The painting will be exhibited for the final time on the E17 Art Trail as part of its Waltham Forest London Borough of Culture 2019 celebrations.

The National Gallery paid £3.6 million for the painting only last year as part of its drive to display works by more women artists.

But critics said the gallery had overpaid when the work sold for just over £2million a few months earlier.

The oil painting dates from 1615-17 and depicts the artist as Saint Catherine of Alexandria. Gentileschi, a follower of Caravaggio, is regarded as the most famous female painter of the 17th Century.

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