In 2016, an Iowa museum director was looking in a closet for a Civil War-era flag when he found a long-lost painting worth millions.
Now with a full restoration completed and a security system in place, "Apollo and Venus," the rediscovered ca. 1600 work by renowned Dutch artist Otto van Veen, goes on public view with an evening reception this Thursday.
Robert Warren, the director of Hoyt Sherman Place, a Des Moines museum and theater, said the 400-year-old early Baroque panel painting had been “lost in the shuffle” for decades.
Chicago painting conservator Barry Bauman, who has also restored works by Thomas Moran, George Inness, and Edwin Lord Weeks for the museum, began an intensive conservation of the rediscovered painting that ended in March 2018. (Read more backstory on DSM.) Security cameras were added before the work goes on permanent display this week.
The painting includes an exhibition label from the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and was gifted to Hoyt Sherman Place in the 1920s.
Warren says van Veen's work historically has sold for between $4 million and $17 million.
Van Veen is known for his church altarpieces and for maintaining an active studio with numerous students. His most famous pupil was Peter Paul Rubens.
Besides sunlight, heat, humidity and other factors, paintings face deterioration over time because of bacteria. A group of Italian researchers now says that old paintings can be better preserved by adding more bacteria to the mix. They discovered that some bacterial spores will fight the bad microbes that eat away at pigments.
According to a new paper published in PLOS One, the researchers found that several strains of bacteria–mainly Staphylococcus and Bacillus–break down certain pigments. But adding the spores of another strain of the Bacillus bacteria–Bacillus subtilis, Bacillus pumilus, and Bacillus megaterium–helped kill the malignant microbes and fungi.
The test was successfully applied to a 17th-century painting attributed to Baroque master Carlo Bononi–the “Incoronazione della Vergine” (The Coronation of the Virgin), a huge oil on canvas that was removed from a wall after a 2012 earthquake damaged the Basilica of Santa Maria in Vado, in Ferrara, Italy.
A famous work by Russian realist painter Ilya Repin was vandalized by a visitor at Moscow's Tretyakov Gallery on May 25.
Ivan the Terrible and His Son Ivan on November 16th, 1581, a painting dating from 1885, was seriously damaged in the attack, in which the man used a metal fence post to smash the protection glass and rip the canvass.
"The painting is badly damaged, the canvas is ripped in three places in the central part ... The falling glass also damaged the frame," the Gallery said in a statement.
"Luckily, the most valuable images, those of the faces and hands of the tsar and prince were not damaged," the statement said.
The attacker was detained and a criminal case was brought against him, the Interior Ministry reported, without revealing his identity.
Russian news agency TASS quoted an unnamed law enforcement official as saying the perpetrator was a 37-year-old man from Voronezh, a city some 525 kilometers south of Moscow, who attacked the painting because of the "falsehood of the historical facts depicted on the canvas."
READ MORE: Russia's Dangerous Struggle With Obscurantism
The painting depicts Ivan the Terrible mortally wounding his son in Ivan in a fit of rage, and it is considered the most psychologically intense of Repin’s paintings -- an expression of the artist's revolt against violence and bloodshed.
The painting was subjected to vandalism for the first time in 1913, when Abram Balashov, a mentally ill man, cut it with a knife in three places. Repin himself participated then in the restoration of the painting, the gallery said in its statement.
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