Lost Peter Paul Rubens Painting Will Go To Auction at Sotheby’s with $7.7 M. Estimate

The painting Saint Sebastian Tended By Two Angels by Flemish master Sir Peter Paul Rubens will go to auction at Sotheby’s in London in early July with a high estimate of $7.7 million, according to the auction house.

The sale will be the first time the painting has gone to auction since it was confirmed to have been painted by Rubens. When the work was last sold at auction in 2008 — at Ivey-Selkirk, a St. Louis auction house, for $40,000 — it was misattributed as the work of French artist Laurent de la Hyre, according to Artnet News. That auction brought considerable attention to the mysterious painting and, soon after, scholars identified it as a lost Rubens.

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For centuries, the painting was thought to have been a copy of Rubens’ Saint Sebastian Tended By Angels, which hangs in the Galleria Corsini in Rome. However, once the attribution was corrected, the two paintings were placed side-by-side in a 2021 exhibition in Stuttgart, Germany, whereupon scholars judged that the once-misidentified painting was actually the original, and the Corsini painting a copy.

In Sotheby’s writing about the artwork, the auction house quoted art historian and Flemish art expert Anna Orlando who helped establish provenance for the piece. She wrote, “The very useful direct comparison [between the two] on the occasion of the exhibition in Stuttgart in 2021 would seem to reveal the higher quality of the work in private hands.” An analysis using x-rays later confirmed the opinion of the scholars.

Scholars believe the painting was originally commissioned by the Genoese nobleman and military commander Ambrogio Spinola, whose family is one of the primary dynasties of the Republic of Genoa. After the painting was made in the late 1600s, it remained in the family for some time. But, eventually, it passed to a Spinola heir who had four sons, two of which died and the other two of which were childless. The painting then began to be passed down the female line of descent, making it impossible to track the painting through the Spinola name thereafter. There is a gap of 230 years that scholars have struggled to fill.

The painting resurfaced in Missouri in 1963 and then appeared for the first time at auction in 2008.

Source: artnews.com

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