Tiny clue makes paint­ing worth 1000 times more

Marlborough Express - - FRONT PAGE -

best a paint­ing pro­duced by his son. But an Ital­ian art his­to­rian no­ticed, at the bot­tom of the paint­ing, the faint out­line of a golden cross, and be­gan to sus­pect that it was not only a gen­uine Man­tegna but part of a larger paint­ing.

Gio­vanni Vala­gussa, the mu­seum’s cu­ra­tor, dis­cov­ered that the barely vis­i­ble cross at the base of the paint­ing matched a staff held by a fig­ure in an ac­knowl­edged Man­tegna work, De­scent into Limbo, com­pleted in 1493. That work sold to a pri­vate buyer at Sotheby’s in New York in 2003 for more than US$28 mil­lion.

Fur­ther back­ing up his hunch, Vala­gussa no­ticed that a rocky arch in the Res­ur­rec­tion paint­ing matched stonework and the in­te­rior of a cave in the Limbo paint­ing.

He re­alised that the two had once been part of a sin­gle work that had been cut in two, as some­times hap­pened to paint­ings dur­ing the Re­nais­sance era.

‘‘This has been a com­pelling story of at­tri­bu­tion, which re­traced all the hy­pothe­ses and work of past cen­turies,’’ said Vala­gussa.

‘‘It re­stores to the world of cul­ture a great mas­ter­piece. It is the most im­por­tant dis­cov­ery re­lat­ing to Man­tegna in 30 years.’

– Telegraph Group

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