SEVILLE, Spain, (AFP) – An oil painting attributed to 17th-century Spanish master Diego Velazquez, found languishing in a back room of Yale University, has been returned to Spain for an exhibition in Valazquez’s hometown Seville. The large painting, The Education of the Virgin Mary, has been on show since Wednesday at the Santa Clara arts center as part of a show of the painter’s early works made when he still lived in the southern Spanish city.
The painting, which portrays St. Anne teaching the Virgin Mary to read, is dated 1616 when Velazquez was just 17.
Works by Velezquez – who made his name through his portraits of the 17th century Spanish royal family and other powerful figures in Europe – from this period are rare.
The unsigned painting was originally credited to an unknown 17th century Seville artist and it languished for years in a back room at the Yale University Art Gallery in the United States, the curator of the Santa Clara exhibition, Benito Navarrete, told AFP.
But in 2002, when the gallery was preparing for renovation and works were moved to off-site storage, the painting caught the eye of an American art curator for being of very high quality and an investigation followed.
In 2010 John Marciari, a Yale-educated art historian, published a study that concluded that the pigments and canvas are all consistent with what Velazquez used when he was in Seville in the first years of his career.
His findings, published in Ars Magazine, an art collecting publication based in Madrid, made headlines and the painting – which was given to Yale University by two wealthy alumni in 1925 – was restored.
It will remain on display at the Santa Clara arts center, a former monastery, until Jan. 15.
Benito said it could then go on display at the Louvre in Paris in 2015 as part of an exhibition dedicated to Velazquez, who died in Madrid in 1660 at the age of 61.
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