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Met’s Rediscovery: Velázquez, Not Velázquez, Velázquez UPDATED and CLARIFIED

Velázquez, “Portrait of a Man,” 27 x 21-3/4 in., Metropolitan Museum of Art, Jules Bache Collection

A painting that entered the Metropolitan Museum’s collection in 1949 as a Velázquez and was downgraded in 1979 as “workshop of Velázquez” has now been restored (in both senses of the word) to the master’s oeuvre. The Met’s press release, hot off my inbox, is here.

According to the Met:

The identification of the sitter [once thought to be the artist himself] will doubtless be much discussed by scholars, but the attribution of the Metropolitan’s painting to Velázquez seems now beyond question.

This is an auspicious beginning to Keith Christiansen‘s reign as successor to Everett Fahy in the eminent post of chairman of European paintings. The new scholarship (and revelatory restoration work performed by Michael Gallagher, the Met’s conservator in charge of European paintings) will give rise to yet another of those engrossing masterpiece-discovery shows, like the recently closed MIchelangelo’s First Painting, which thoroughly convinced me.

But can they convince me about this one? I doubt it. (But I’ll try to suspend disbelief.)

: Did I say “hot off my inbox”? I now see that Carol Vogel was given the story (and was granted interviews) well before it was e-mailed to me. Arrrgghhh!

CLARIFICATION: Some readers who didn’t click the “this one” link, above, may have mistakenly (but understandably) concluded that I doubt the Velázquez attribution. It’s the “Michelangelo of Fifth Avenue,” featured in the Met’s upcoming “The Young Archer” show, that I question. The Met, as I understand it, intends to lay out the arguments and let us judge for ourselves. Fair enough.

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