The painting, which has been gathering dust for almost 140 years in the family collection of Londoners, turned out to be Rubens’ work

The portrait of a woman hiding under layers of dirt and varnish, estimated at 3.5 million pounds.

In London, they discovered the painting “Portrait of a Lady” by Peter Rubens, which has been kept in a private collection for almost 140 years. The origin of the portrait was discovered by art critics at Sotheby’s after removing age-old layers of dirt and varnish.

Peter Paul Rubens. “Portrait of a Lady” photo by Sotheby’s / PA

In 1902, a 17th-century masterpiece was exhibited at the Royal Academy in London as a work of Rubens, but its origin was “forgotten” over time. The owner of the “Portrait of a Lady” in 1878 was the London lawyer Charles Butler. However, in 2017, the portrait, stored in a private collection of 139 years, was mistakenly considered the work of a student of Rubens and sold at auction forty times cheaper than its real value.

An anonymous buyer who acquired work in 2017 for 78 thousand pounds, suspected the true origin of the picture. After an examination at Sotheby’s, his guesses were confirmed. The portrait is going to be put up for auction on July 29. The estimated cost of the painting is from 2.5 million to 3.5 million pounds.

The experts proved the authenticity of the picture using an infrared camera. She showed hidden details that indicated changes made by the artist while working on the portrait.

There is one significant change in the sky where the red canvas falls. Rubens, obviously, was not happy with the result, so he pushed it [the canvas] back and increased the area of ​​the sky. From the outline of the dress, you can see that it was originally painted like that, and then he [the artist] expanded her shoulders and the contour of the dress.

Andrew Fletcher

expert on antique paintings

photo Victoria Jones / PA


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