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The newly discovered Peter Paul Rubens oil sketch at the National Museum in Oslo
The newly discovered Peter Paul Rubens oil sketch at the National Museum in Oslo


Nov. 29, 2011

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The National Museum of Oslo just got a pleasant surprise. For 80 years, a Peter Paul Rubens oil sketch has hung on its walls without anyone knowing it -- it was, until now, attributed to an “unknown Flemish artist.”

Belgian curator and Rubens expert Nico van Hout spotted the work while visiting an exhibition of Baroque painting at the museum earlier this year, according to the Association for Research into Crimes Against Art’s blog. “[Hout] immediately noticed the sketch and told the museum it was very special.” He then established a “final attribution, and has now confirmed that the work is a very good sketch by Rubens,” one that he believes is a precursor, painted around 1615, to Rubens’ famous The Rape of the Daughters of Leucippus (1617-1618).

The work was donated to the museum by Norwegian collector Christian Langaard, who is said to have claimed then that it was an authentic Rubens, but was refuted by researchers at the time. Because Rubens is a frequent target of forgers, it is sometimes difficult to convince experts of a work’s authenticity. The Oslo museum’s sketch was never included in Rubens’ catalogue raisonné.

Museum director Nils Ohlsen said he now plans to investigate the authenticity of several other unattributed works in the collection.

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