|French masterpiece by 17th century artist Charles Le Brun discovered in the Hotel Ritz|
A Christie's employee looks at an oil painting by 17th century artist Charles Le Brun is on display at Christie's in New York, January 23, 2013. A major renovation at Paris's legendary Ritz hotel has resulted in the discovery of the painting that nobody knew was there. Now, the giant tableau is to be sold by Christie's auctioneers and could raise up to 500,000 euros ($665,000) for the foundation established by owner Mohamed Al Fayed in memory of his son Dodi, the late boyfriend of Princess Diana. The oil painting has been identified by experts as an early work by Le Brun (1619-1690) that would have been completed before he became the official painter at the court of Louis XIV and established his reputation as one of the dominant figures of 17th century French art. AFP PHOTO/Emmanuel Dunand.
By: Pascale Mollard-Chenebenoit
PARIS (AFP).- It is the art world's equivalent of finding a precious gold coin down the back of a sofa.
A major renovation at Paris's legendary Ritz hotel has resulted in the discovery of a painting thought to be the work of 17th century artist Charles Le Brun that nobody knew was there.
Now, the giant tableau is to be sold by Christie's auctioneers and could raise up to 500,000 euros ($665,000) for the foundation established by owner Mohamed Al Fayed in memory of his son Dodi, the late boyfriend of Princess Diana.
The oil painting has been identified by experts as an early work by Le Brun (1619-1690) that would have been completed before he became the official painter at the court of Louis XIV and established his reputation as one of the dominant figures of 17th century French art.
It adorned one of the suites in which Coco Chanel lived for more than 30 years but when exactly it was installed in the hotel remains a mystery.
The building that houses the hotel on the swanky Place Vendome dates from 1705 and was initially a family home for French nobles. It became the Ritz after it was bought by Swiss hotelier Cesar Ritz in 1898.
The hotel archives offer no clue as to how the painting ended up there, according to Christie's art advisor Joseph Friedman.
"When I saw this painting in the suite, I had to take a step back. It had a very powerful impact," Friedman told AFP.
"The use of colour and the movement are remarkable. The influence of (Baroque master Nicolas) Poussin is obvious."
"A colleague then found the initials CLBF, which stand for Charles Le Brun Fecit (Le Brun did this) and a date, 1647."
Christie's then embarked on a process of consultation with relevant experts and although they have not found any contemporary record of the painting, "noone is in any doubt that it is a genuine Le Brun," according to Friedman.
The man who first spotted the painting was Olivier Lefeuvre, a Christie's France specialist in the period, who came across it in July, a month before the Ritz closed its doors for a two-year renovation.
"I thought it was a Le Brun straight away," he said. "It was very well preserved. It was really quite moving."
The painting depicts the killing of Trojan princess Polyxena after she was implicated in the death of Achilles. In the absence of any historical records, Christie's have named the painting as "The Sacrifice of Polyxena."
According to Lefeuvre, Le Brun most likely painted the scene after a three-year stay in Rome where he studied the work of Raphael and became close to Poussin.
The painting is to go on display in New York next week and will be auctioned in Paris in April.
"Mohamed Al Fayed decided to sell it because he thinks its quality means it should be in a museum," Friedman said. "It deserves to be part of a major collection."
The hotel of choice of Charlie Chaplin and Ernest Hemingway, the Ritz is also infamous as the place where Dodi and Diana dined before their fatal car crash in 1997.
© 1994-2013 Agence France-Presse
January 24, 2013
French masterpiece by 17th century artist Charles Le Brun discovered in the Hotel Ritz
Romanian suspects in Dutch art heist 'tried to sell paintings'; others involved in the heist
Christie's to sell a selection of 128 works from the collection of Mrs. Ingvild Goetz
Five British icons Bacon, Hockney, Jones, Doig, Hirst at auction at Christie's London
Three "Life Drawings" by Jules Olitski acquired by the Phillips Collection in Washington
One of Impressionist artist Camille Pissarro's only pair of seascapes surfaces at Bonhams
The Minneapolis Institute of Arts appoints new Curator of Southeast Asian Art
Jenness Cortez presents new, important work of American Realism at DeBruyne Fine Art
Venezuelan museum's missing Matisse painting thieves sentenced in Miami by US federal court
For the first time out of Europe, Toulouse-Lautrec & his world begins its U.S. tour in New Britain
Stolen Henri Matisse painting back in Sweden's Moderna Museet after 25 years
Betjeman manuscript of 'The Arrest of Oscar Wilde at the Cadogan Hotel' for sale at Bonhams
Contemporary American artist Roni Horn wins the fourth edition of the Joan Miró Prize
Ayyam Gallery opens gallery space in London with exhibition by Lebanese artist and architect Nadim Karam
Portraits of women, and self-portraits, on view at American Folk Art Museum
Mad. Sq. Art announces Camera Obscura by Sandra Gibson and Luis Recoder
Spirit of Studio 54 electrifies Palm Beach Modern's auction of Steve Rubell archive
Artist Christo takes small steps on Colorado project
Swann Galleries' February 14 auction to include works from the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
Rare posters seized by Nazis net $2.5M at New York City sale
Most Popular Last Seven Days
1.- Exhibition presents French Impressionist's most important and provocative paintings
2.- Sotheby's auction achieves the second-highest total for any sale ever held in London
3.- High Museum of Art premieres major United States exhibition of Alex Katz landscapes
4.- China's Great Wall is disappearing due to adverse natural conditions and reckless human activities
5.- Van Gogh to Pollock: Exhibition at Milwaukee Art Museum presents art world rebels
6.- Confederate flag furor spreads to stained glass windows at Washington National Cathedral
7.- Christie's London Impressionist & Modern Art Evening Sale achieves $112,908,380
8.- First comprehensive show on the history, politics and culture of homosexuality_ies opens in Berlin
9.- Sotheby's to re-launch Irish Art sales in London; Sale includes important nude by William Orpen
10.- Centre Pompidou devotes a major exhibition to Palestinian artist Mona Hatoum's work
Museums, Exhibits, Artists, Milestones, Digital Art, Architecture, Photography,
Photographers, Special Photos, Special Reports, Featured Stories, Auctions, Art Fairs,
Anecdotes, Art Quiz, Education, Mythology, 3D Images, Last Week, .
|Royalville Communications, Inc|