by Paul Jeromack
Without a doubt, the magnificently rehabilitated Portrait of a Man in Black
by Diego Velásquez
is the Old Master (re)discovery of the year, and the star of "Velásquez Rediscovered" at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, an in-house exhibition celebrating its re-christening by bringing together nearly all of the works by Velásquez and his circle in the Metís collection (on view till Feb. 7, 2010). Bought by banker Jules Bache in 1929 from Joseph Duveen as a Velásquez self portrait and bequeathed by Bache as such to the Met in 1944, its painterly qualities gradually became clouded beneath its thick, lemon-lime varnish. Increasingly dismissed in the scholarly literature on the artist, it was downgraded to "School of Velásquez" in 1979.