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Rubens ‘lost’ masterpiece found in Glasgow historic house

The portrait by Baroque artist Sir Peter Paul Rubens was found in Glasgow Museums’ collection, on show at Pollok House.

A Flemish masterpiece thought to be lost for almost 400 years has been rediscovered in a historic house by art experts.

The portrait by Baroque artist Sir Peter Paul Rubens was found in Glasgow Museums’ collection, on show at Pollok House.

The 17th century painting of George Villiers, the 1st Duke of Buckingham, was believed to have been a copy of the lost original.

(CSG CIC Glasgow Museums/PA)

However, after conservation work carried out for the BBC series Britain’s Lost Masterpieces, it has been reassessed and confirmed to be an authentic work by Rubens, who lived from 1577 to 1640.

Presenter and art historian Dr Bendor Grosvenor said: “The chance to discover a portrait of such a pivotal figure in British history by one of the greatest artists who ever lived has been thrillingly exciting.

“I hope it inspires many people to visit Glasgow’s museums, some of the finest in the country.”

The painting was identified by Dr Grosvenor whilst working on the series with presenter and historian Emma Dabiri.

Painstaking conservation work then carried out by the restorer Simon Gillespie removed layers of dirt and overpaint that had concealed many of Rubens’ trademark techniques, creating doubt over the painting’s true attribution.

The art work is believed to have been painted in about 1625, during the reign of James I, but had been regarded as lost by art historians for almost four centuries.

Culture body Glasgow Life said the portrait was reassessed and the revised attribution to Rubens was confirmed by Ben van Beneden, the director of the Rubenshuis Museum in Antwerp.

Chair of Glasgow Life, councillor David McDonald, said: “Unsurprisingly we are beyond delighted to discover the painting is by Rubens, an artist renowned globally as one of the most important painters in history.

“Glasgow is proud of its extensive art collection, considered by many to be amongst the finest in Europe. Glasgow Museums strive to learn more about the artwork in our care and it has been a joy to work with Britain’s Lost Masterpieces to understand much more about this remarkable painting.”

The programme featuring the painting will be aired on BBC Four on Wednesday evening.

The newly discovered portrait will be redisplayed with an updated interpretation in the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum from Thursday onwards.

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