Disputed Van Dyck Self-Portrait Genuine After All and Goes on Display

Van Dyck, Self-portrait, 1641

A self-portrait by Van Dyck that was written-off as a fake years ago has now been authenticated and gone on display at the Minneapolis Institute of Art, Minnesota, the Art Newspaper reports.

A decade ago, Oliver Millar, the late co-author of the artist’s 2004 catalogue raisonné proclaimed that the painting was “possibly a very early copy,” and that the original had probably gone missing.

However, when the painting came up at auction at Lempertz in Cologne in May 2012, described as “a copy of Van Dyck,” the disputed painting was subject to an intense bidding war, eventually fetching €512,000 ($565,000), well above the high estimate of €40,000 ($44,000). The high hammer price indicated that some well-informed collectors were very confident of its authenticity.

After the purchase, the anonymous buyer invested in extensive restoration to remove layers of varnish and over-painting that had left the canvas in poor condition. Following reassessment by four key experts, the cleaned-up painting was authenticated by Susan Barnes, another co-author of the 2004 Van Dyck catalogue raisonné, as well as Christopher Brown, former director of the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, David Jaffé, former senior curator at the National Gallery, London, and Malcolm Rogers, the outgoing director of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

The self-portrait is considered important because it is said to represent the way the artist wished to be remembered. The painter included an etching of the picture on the frontispiece of his 1630 book.

The Minneapolis museum will display the painting, which has only been exhibited in a museum show once before, until 2017.

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