A long-lost painting by one of history’s most influential painters, the Flemish artist Sir Peter Paul Rubens, has gone on public display in Scotland.
The portrait, thought to be a copy of a lost original, was previously on show at Pollok House, Glasgow when it was identified by art historian Dr Bendor Grosvenor.
The rare 17th-century portrait of the Duke of Buckingham, George Villiers, featured on BBC Four’s Britain’s Lost Masterpieces.
Conservation work carried out on behalf of the programme removed layers of dirt and overpaint that had concealed many of Rubens’ trademark techniques, creating doubt over the paintings true attribution.
Now returned to its original state, the portrait underwent reassessment and has now been put on public display at the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum in Glasgow.
The revised attribution to Rubens was confirmed by the director of the Rubenshuis Museum in Antwerp, Ben van Beneden.
Chair of Glasgow Life, Councillor David McDonald, said: “To begin with we were intrigued when Britain’s Lost Masterpieces thought there may be more to the painting than first thought.
“Then, we had the joy of seeing this remarkable painting conserved and the elation that comes with discovering the city’s collection contains a Rubens – quite simply, one of history’s most important artists.
“Glasgow is proud to hold one of the finest art collections in Europe.
“By putting this portrait on display in Kelvingrove Museum we are giving as many people as possible the opportunity to see Rubens’ masterpiece in person.
“George Villiers, First Duke of Buckingham is certain to be a must-see for the million plus people who visit Kelvingrove every year.”
The portrait has been displayed with an updated interpretation in the ‘Looking at Art’ gallery in Kelvingrove Museum.
There, it is expected to delight many of the 1.2 million plus people who visit the museum annually.
George Villiers, First Duke of Buckingham is believed to have been painted in about 1625, during the reign of James I, but had been regarded as lost by art historians for almost 400 years.
BBC Four’s Britain’s Lost Masterpieces aired Wednesday 27 September, with the painting going on show at Kelvingrove Museum yesterday (Thurs).
The programme detailed overwhelming evidence, including technical analysis of the panel on which the portrait was painted proved that it was prepared in the manner used in Rubens’ studio.
Dendrochronology (examining the tree rings of wood to date it) showed that the panel was likely created in the early 1620s.
A number of alterations revealed by cleaning and X-ray analysis in areas such as the hair and costume, demonstrated that the painting could not be a copy, but was Rubens’ lost masterpiece.
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