Long-Lost Masterpiece by Ingres Discovered in Hospital Attic in France
A painting by Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres has been found in the French province of Jura completely by chance, Le Monde reports (see Long Lost Masterpiece Discovered in French Attic Comes to Auction).
The piece is only the latest in a spate of “lost” masterpieces that have turned up in recent months sometimes to huge auction success (see Scholar Denies Authenticating ‘Lost Leonardo’ Found in Swiss Vault and Lost Klimt Portrait Unveiled In Prague).
The discovery was made during an inventory conducted by Emmanuel Buselin, curator and advisor of historical monuments of the region, in the attic of the chapel of the former hospital Hôtel-Dieu, located in the town of Lons-le-Saunier.
Buselin saw a huge canvas rolled and covered in dust and, intrigued, sat down to unroll it. A large Ingres masterpiece—measuring 4.30 meters wide by 3.40 meters high—depicting a Madonna with child and kneeling king, slowly unfolded before his eyes.
The painting, which dates to 1826, is thought to have been gifted to the town after Ingres completed it. It hung in the local church of Saint-Désiré.
In 1936, according to the municipal archives, the church was refurbished and the painting stored in the former hospital, where it had languished forgotten ever since.
The priceless masterpiece is thought to be the long-lost second version of Ingres’s Le Vœu de Louis XIII (The vow of Louis XIII), which King Charles X of France originally commissioned from the Neoclassical master in 1820.
Buselin’s incredible discovery took place last autumn, but it remained secret until this week in order to protect the artwork, which could not be safely removed from the old hospital immediately.
The painting is now being repaired in the conservation area of the Museum of Fine Arts of Lons-le-Saunier, where it is expected to be displayed once it is completely restored.
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