A Surfeit of Artistic Riches

Whew! It seems that in the last 24 hours there have been some really interesting developments for those of us interested in art history, and particularly for pieces from the Old Master period. I’d like to share these with you, dear reader:

– Maggie Perry of Ten Thousand Places let me know about an interesting new exhibition of paintings by Dominican father Juan Bautista Maíno, who is being hailed as “a maestro waiting to be discovered” by the Prado Museum. Truthfully, despite my studies of 16th and 17th century Spanish painting at Sotheby’s London, I confess that I was completely unaware of his work. You can view a slideshow of selected images here.

– The Torygraph is reporting this morning that a preparatory sketch for Raphael’s “Parnassus”, commissioned by Pope Julius II for the Stanze della Segnatura in the Vatican, along with his famous “School of Athens” and other works, is coming up for sale at Christie’s this December. Raphael has always been my favorite Italian Old Master painter, and his works rarely if ever come on the market. Someone is going to pay a pretty penny for this drawing.

– And as if there was not already enough fascinating news about the re-discovery of a lost Leonardo Da Vinci, DaVinci’s lost fresco “The Battle of Anghiari” may have been found in the Palazzo Vecchio in Florence. Art history students know that the city sponsored a competition between Da Vinci and Michelangelo for the city hall, showing two battle scenes, but neither work has managed to survive. Both works, during their existence, had an enormous influence on artists all over Europe, and the recovery of either work would be a field day for art historians

Speculation has always been that when Giorgio Vasari – a better historian than a painter – was commissioned to paint a new fresco for the space that he somehow hid the remains of Leonardo’s work out of respect. Now, centuries later, new scientific methods may allow the piece to come to light again. For now, we shall simply have to wait and see what results of these new tests show.

Rubens’ 1603 sketch of the central portion of Da Vinci’s “The Battle of Anghiari”

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