Experts have discovered a new work by Rubens under a layer of varnish

Peter Paul RUBENS, Portrait of a Lady

The portrait of the lady, previously considered the work of the artist’s workshop, will be put up for auction at Sotheby’s.

According to the head of the department of old masters of Sotheby’s Andrew Fletcher, the work was re-distributed during its cleaning from the layers of the old varnish that covered the surface of the painting.

Meanwhile, “Portrait of a Lady” has an exhibition history. According to experts at the auction house, a painting by Rubens was shown at an exhibition at the Royal Academy in London in 1902. But then, the authorship of the work was forgotten. Over a hundred years spent in one family collection. In 2017, the heirs of the collector decided to sell it at the Sotheby’s auction. Then it was sold to an anonymous collector for £ 78 thousand as the work of an unknown artist in the circle of Rubens.

Now, after the authorship of the portrait was established, the estimate of the work is £ 2.5-3.5 million.

Commenting on the process of working on this painting, Fletcher said that it was rather dirty, covered with centuries of dirt and old varnish. But when the work was cleared, it became obvious that in front of them was a work of surprising beauty by Rubens. Rubens was the flagship of the Baroque era, after a closed and timid Middle Ages.

Fletcher also added that additional infrared research helped restore the course of the author’s thoughts while working on the portrait. The outline of her dress shows that he first portrayed the lady in a one-way turn, and then he changed the spread of her shoulders and the silhouette of the dress. Besides this, in infrared light, one could see many small changes in the fingers and hands` position.

As expected, the “Portrait of a Lady” will become the top lot of the evening auction Sotheby’s July 29, 2020. This will be the first evening offline auction held in London after quarantine.


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