The piece, titled The Rape of the Daughters of Leucippus (1610–1611), was languishing in a dark corner of the National Museum of Art Architecture and Design in Oslo when Hout first came across it. Declared a fake by Rubens scholar Julius Held in 1950, it had received little attention ever since.
Its fate is now about to change. Hout has included the piece in a large exhibition opening at London’s Royal Academy next January, which maps the Dutch painter’s legacy, influencing artists from Van Dyck to Cézanne.
“It was amazing when I saw it,” the curator told the Independent. “I’m convinced it’s genuine as are many of my colleagues. Otherwise I wouldn’t put it in the exhibition.”
Thought to have been painted in 1610 or 1611, the piece represents the abduction of the mythical Leucippides by twin brothers Castor and Pollux. It was the first time Rubens grappled with a theme to which he returned a decade later for a major piece now part of the Alte Pinakothek collection in Munich.
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