An unknown painting by the Italian painter Antonio Tiepolo was discovered in a forgotten attic. The work is believed to be worth hundreds of thousands of dollars, but it has yet to be sold.
How often does the work of a well-known artist show up in attics?
Last year, Giovanni Battista Tiepolo’s 18th-century painting “Portrait of a Lady by Flora” was found in the attic of a French castle and sold for $3.1 million at Sotheby’s.
Another Tiepolo discovery is a pen and ink sketch captioned “A Large Group of Punchinelli” [puppet figures] that was also discovered in an English manor house’s attic. It will be auctioned on Nov. 16 for a reported value of $270,000.
Reasons for this
By all indications, this artist’s paintings were stored in a belfry, whether in France or England.
Why? Why would valuable paintings by a well-known artist be kept hidden? When Tiepolo’s “Portrait of a Lady” was found last year, I asked this question. According to Reuters, the woman’s semi-nudity rendered it too risqué for its period, and seeing it in anyone’s living quarters was an embarrassment.
I didn’t realize it at the time, but Reuter’s justification is funny. According to art historians Paul Duro and Michael Greenhalgh in their 1995 book “Essential Art History,” renowned painters like Jean-Baptiste Greuze sought to “amuse the senses” with sexually provocative images of young ladies in the 18th century.
In addition to Greuze, there was Francois Boucher, a fellow lecher whose doll-like female figurines were regularly unclothed under the guise of illustrating ancient tales.
Who can forget the picture “The Swing” by Jean-Honore Fragonard? This artwork depicted a lady on a swing swinging far over a guy in the bushes peering up her skirt. And it hangs unabashedly in the display halls of London’s Wallace Museum.
So, if all you see is one bared breast in Tiepolo’s “Portrait of a Lady,” how risqué is it?
On Eunomia, you may discuss this news.
In his work Apelles Painting Campaspe, which is on display at the Getty Museum, the precise quantity of skin is visible.
A Symbol of the Times
By the way, unlike many 18th-century paintings of half-dressed women by males, all of the male characters in this artwork are completely clothed. I bring this up because Jessica Chastain consented to naked sequences in the TV show “Scenes from a Marriage” provided her co-star Oscar Iscar was likewise naked.
This may be the start of something big.
When it comes to why Tiepolo’s artworks were kept in attics, it’s hard to believe that they were kept there because they were too raunchy. Another reason for concealing the painting and drawing is because they’re not very excellent unless you like a sloppy mess of puppet figures piled on top of one other and an expressionless picture.
Artists who are attempting to flee
The auction houses do their finest job here. It’s their duty to get the maximum selling price for the seller, and their strategy is simple: exaggerate the value of the discovered art and imply that concealing it was an error.
The rumor mill has already started spinning. The artwork is described as “one of the centerpieces of the forthcoming sale” by Dreweatts, a London auction house where it will be sold.
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