Paint­ing an au­then­tic Por­pora piece, says ex­hibit’s or­ga­nizer

The China Post - - LOCAL -

Af­ter a lo­cal boy ac­ci­den­tally punc­tured a cen­turies- old Ital­ian paint­ing last week­end, ex­hibit or­ga­niz­ers yesterday rushed to con­firm the au­then­tic­ity of the piece af­ter al­le­ga­tions from an Ital­ian news­pa­per raised doubts over its true iden­tity.

Ex­hi­bi­tion or­ga­nizer Sun Chih­suan said yesterday that the dam­aged paint­ing “Flow­ers” ( val­ued at US$ 1.5 mil­lion) by Paolo Por­pora had been au­then­ti­cated by pro­fes­sional ap­praiser An­drea Rossi. Ital­ian news­pa­per Il Post claimed ear­lier that the paint­ing was the work of Mario Nuzzi and was com­pleted in 1660 and is worth much less, at ap­prox­i­mately 30,000 eu­ros ( ap­prox­i­mately US$ 34,500).

Sun stated that the Ital­ian pa­per had misiden­ti­fied the piece us­ing im­ages from an online auc­tion site, whose re­li­a­bil­ity could not be ver­i­fied. The paint­ing on the other hand, ac­cord­ing to Sun, is sup­ple­mented with cer­tifi­cates con­firm­ing its au- then­tic­ity.

The 17th cen­tury paint­ing was be­ing dis­played as part of the “Face of Leonardo: Im­ages of a Ge­nius” ex­hi­bi­tion at the Huashan 1914 Cre­ative Park in Taipei, when a 12- year- old lo­cal boy ac­ci­den­tally tripped and punc­tured the paint­ing with his fist when he at­tempted to bal­ance him­self. The ex­hibit, which also in­cludes por­traits of Leonardo da Vinci, is made up of 55 paint­ings which the ex­hibitors state are “au­then­tic pieces … very rare and pre­cious.”

Ac­cord­ing to the Web Gallery of Art ( a Euro­pean data­base for fine art), “Flow­ers” is the only work by Por­pora to be signed by the artist him­self and was painted around 1660. Por­pora, born in Naples, was a pa­tron of the Chigi fam­ily and worked in Rome.

The restora­tion of the paint­ing has been com­pleted, with con­ser­va­tion­ists pri­or­i­tiz­ing the paint­ing’s struc­tural in­tegrity over the re­touch­ing of paint on dam­aged ar­eas. Af­ter 12 hours of in­tense work, the paint­ing has re­turned to the ex­hibit site and is on dis­play.

Doubts about Ex­hibit Linger

Mean­while, doubts were cast about the ex­hibit’s or­ga­ni­za­tion by lo­cal news host Tai Chung­jen. In an open let­ter to the lo­cal Ap­ple Daily, Tai found it sus­pi­cious that an ex­hi­bi­tion fea­tur­ing more than 50 au­then­tic paint­ings worth mil­lions of dol­lars would not re­ceive greater cov­er­age in the Ital­ian media. Another ma­jor sus­pi­cion he high­lighted was whether any firm would be will­ing to in­sure such a large con­cen­tra­tion of prized works, and why nec­es­sary se­cu­rity safe­guards were not in place dur­ing the ex­hi­bi­tion.

Ex­hi­bi­tion or­ga­niz­ers have al­ready stated that they will not de­mand that the boy or his fam­ily pay for the dam­age and that restora­tion costs and com­pen­sa­tion to the paint­ing’s owner would be cov­ered by in­sur­ance.

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