Exhibitions Museums France

Louvre’s Poussin sees the light of day

A painting downgraded to the work of a follower a century ago is reattributed to the 17th-century master—just in time for an anniversary exhibition next year

Mars and Venus was one of 33 works by Poussin bought by King Louis XIV in 1671, six years after the painter’s death

The Musée du Louvre has discovered a “new” work by Nicolas Poussin in its reserve collection. Pierre Rosenberg, a curator and the former director of the Paris museum, mentioned a rediscovery in an interview with La Tribune de l'Art in March but only revealed the identity of the painting in the latest issue of the Louvre’s quarterly journal, Grande Galerie.

Mars and Venus was one of 33 works by Poussin bought by King Louis XIV in 1671, six years after the painter’s death. In 1914, specialists downgraded it to the “work of a follower or simply a copy of a lost original”, Rosenberg says. The composition, inspired by Ovid’s Metamorphoses, was considered unworthy of the 17th-century master. Rosenberg, the author of a new catalogue raisonné of Poussin’s paintings due to be published in 2016, himself rejected the attribution in 2009.

The curator credits “a ray of sunshine” with changing his view of the painting when it was removed from storage. Despite the “thick layers of a brownish varnish”, a close examination of the canvas convinced him that it was an authentic work by Poussin. After conservation, the picture is to be included in the Louvre’s monograph exhibition for the 350th anniversary of the painter’s death next year, Le Figaro reports.

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Comments

12 Jun 14
16:37 CET

PETER HUESTIS, WASHINGTON, DC

Well, god forbid they should REMOVE the "thick layers of a brownish varnish".

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