Published: June 29, 2015
Claude Joseph Vernet, “Noon, Return from Fishing,” circa 1750-51, after restoration.
LONDON — At London Art Week July 3–10, Ben Elwes Fine Art will unveil a rediscovered and previously unknown masterpiece by renowned landscape painter Claude Joseph Vernet (1714–1789).
Until recently, “Noon – Return from Fishing” was largely hidden under layers of paint which had been applied in the Nineteenth Century and which covered the majority of the background with a crude depiction of a waterfall. Almost a year of careful restoration has recently revealed and brought to light a lost masterpiece from the painter’s key period, still in its original frame. It is the first of three versions of this composition from the highpoint of the artist’s career, one of which is now in the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge.
The painting will be on view to the public for the first time as a highlight of London Art Week 2015, which celebrates the riches and expertise within the galleries of Mayfair and St. James’s. Bringing together over 40 art galleries and three auction houses, including a selection of international participants, the event will unveil new discoveries and showcase an array of paintings, drawings, sculpture, and works of art, from antiquity to the Twentieth Century.
The painting was acquired at a regional auction as a landscape by an unattributed artist. At the time, the background showed a huge, clumsily painted waterfall which completely concealed the masterful landscape now seen in the painting. The figures in the foreground were visible prior to the restoration and the quality of their depiction hinted that the work could in fact have been touched by greatness.
The painting was entrusted to restorer John Hinton who spent almost a year carefully removing the layers of paint which obscured the original image. The restoration has recently been completed, and subsequent research has revealed that this previously unknown painting is the first of a series of three versions of this composition, one of which is now at the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge. It has been dated to 1750/51, the highpoint of the artist’s career, and shortly before he returned to France from Rome, having received a Royal commission from Louis XV to paint the series of monumental views of the major commercial and military seaports of France (1753–1765).
For information, www.londonartweek.co.uk.
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