Sunday, May 9, 2010

Spring Landscape
9 x 13 Oil on Panel

The Metropolitan Museum recently rediscovered a painting by Velazquez. The painting entered the Met collection in 1949 as a Velazquez Self Portrait. The origins of the painting are unknown, it first turned up in the 18th century in a German collection. It was initially thought to be a work by Van Dyck, then Velazquez, possibly Mazo, Velazquez again, then school of, workshop of, and finally Velazquez yet again. The sitter has been unknown, a self portrait and now unknown again. It was never really lost but the attribution was downgraded twice and it was finally hidden in storage for many years. Experts, curators and historians were clueless. It's as if the painting was in the witness protection program. Perhaps it saw a restorer overclean a masterpiece and then testified against him. It was given a new identity and relocated to the Met where it might easily blend into the museum's massive collection. That seems to have worked for quite a long time, it was restored twice without being discovered, but then someone in the museum recognized the piece and handed it over to the head of the restoration department who roughed it up a bit for being a snitch before hanging it back on a wall in the museum. It has now been publicly identified as by Velazquez again but not as a self portrait and, since its recent cleaning, is considered an unfinished portrait.....

2 comments:

Walter L. Mosley said...

Thanks for posting this.

Karen Winslow said...

Hi Tom, I have always loved this painting and considered it a Velasquez self-portrait. Sadly, it has now been cleaned down to the start with big patches of bare canvas and hard edges that stop the eye from seeing the illusion of the figure in "space" or in the "round", that it had prior to this recent cleaning. Although it is still spectacular, the magic, the mystery, and the unity of the whole has been altered and lost.