A Rediscovered Masterpiece by Guercino Will Go on View in the U.K.

The long-lost painting will be displayed alongside four more works by the Baroque Old Master.

Giovanni Francesco Barbieri, also called Il Guercino, Moses (ca. 1618–19). Photo: courtesy Moretti Fine Art.

A recently rediscovered masterpiece by the Baroque painter Guercino made headlines in 2022 after it overshot its $6,000 estimate to sell for a whopping $600,000 at auction in Paris. The dramatic portrayal of Moses looking up to the heavens with his palms raised will now go on public display at Waddesdon Manor in England, having been recently acquired by the Rothschild Foundation.

The specialist at Chayette and Cheval auction house, who was tasked with appraising Moses (ca. 1618–19), presumably regrets attributing the work to an anonymous follower of Guido Reni from the 17th-century Bolognese School. In the catalogue notes, it was even explained that Guercino had been considered a possible author.

The real attribution did not escape the expert eye of Old Masters dealer Fabrizio Moretti, who snapped up the sleeper hit. “We never questioned the attribution,” he said in 2023. “From 100 meters, you can tell this is an early Guercino.”

Moretti Fine Art had the painting restored, uncovering a striking luminesce beneath the aging vanish and several centuries’ worth of filth. It was exhibited at the gallery’s Paris location in September and put back on the market for a major markup of €2 million ($2.2 million).

The painting now returns to the public eye for the special exhibition “Guercino at Waddesdon: King David and the Wise Women,” where it will be joined by four more paintings by Guercino that were all painted in 1651. Spanning just over three decades, the exhibition will offer visitors a sense of how the Master’s style evolved during his lifetime.

Born Giovanni Francesco Barbieri, Guercino was a highly sought-after artist who was regularly commissioned by dukes, popes, and foreign courts. He is known for his masterful use of chiaroscuro, of which Moses is a prime example.

The other paintings in the exhibition are King David, already part of the collection at Waddesdon and three sibyls: Libyan Sibyl on loan from the Royal Collection, and The Cumaean Sibyl with a Putto and The Samian Sibyl, both from London’s National Gallery.

The Rothschild Foundation is a charitable organization founded by Jacob Rothschild. On behalf of the National Trust, it manages Waddesdon Manor, a 19th-century estate that originally belonged to Ferdinand de Rothschild and is now open to the public.

“Guercino at Waddesdon: King David and the Wise Women” is on view at Waddesdon Manor in Buckinghamshire, England, March 20 through October.


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