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Discover lost works of art on a European vacation

01.28.2015
Topic European Travel

Discover lost works of art on a European vacation - Image

Fans of contemporary art can look forward to an ever-growing body of work from their favorite artists, but for those who prefer the works of the old masters, the options to view them may seem set in stone - or at least canvas. However, as recent discoveries have demonstrated, even collections thought completed centuries ago are in flux, and lost works from famous artists are always waiting to be found. Consider working some newly uncovered works by artistic masters into your Europe travel plans.

Mythic marble
Rome's Capitoline Museum, said to hold the oldest public art collection in the world, recently came into possession of an ancient statue of rare quality. According to the Italian newspaper Gazzetta del Sud, a marble sculpture that's being called the Vignacce Marsyas was uncovered by students from the American Institute for Roman Culture, a U.S.-based non-profit group. Dated to the 2nd century CE, the sculpture depicts Marsyas, a mythical figure who, in Greek tales, was tied to a tree and flayed after losing a music competition with the god Apollo. In the newly discovered work, Marsyas is depicted with his hand and feet together as if they were bound.

Aside from its value as a lost work of ancient art, the Vignacce Marsyas is important for its uncommon style. Red marble runs through the statue to depict its subject's bloody skin, while the rest of the work is cast in dark marble. The Capitoline Museum has only three other statues made of the same dark marble in its entire collection. They were all found at the villa of the Roman Emperor Hadrian and are believed to have been created by the same artisan who made the Vignacce Marsyas. Other interesting details were found in the eyes of the statue, which include inlaid white glass paste, bronze in the eyelids and colored irises. The statue is also nearly intact, missing only its feet and one hand. The work will be displayed at the Palazzo dei Conservatori in Rome until Feb. 1, 2015, when it will be moved to the Capitoline's Centrale Montemartini museum.

Stolen treasures recovered
Though worthy of celebration, the Vignacce Marsyas isn't the only long-lost work to come to light recently. In 2012, more than 1,300 paintings were seized from an apartment in Munich on the suspicion that they were works stolen by the Nazi regime decades earlier, Spiegel reported. The next year, Berlin-based art historian Meike Hoffman announced, after an examination of the works, that contained among them were lost masterpieces by the likes of Henri Matisse, Auguste Renoir, Pablo Picasso, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec and others. The value of the collection was estimated at the equivalent of more than $1.5 billion Canadian.

This year, the Bern Art Museum in Switzerland announced that it had been made the heir of the collection's owner, according to Reuters. Although the World Jewish Congress warned that the museum could face immense legal trouble if it accepts the works, the institution is expected to take them, leaving some in Germany until they can confirm whether or not the works were actually stolen.

Rubens in the UK
A far less contentious discovery was recently made in Oslo, Norway. A painting in the National Museum of Art, Architecture and Design was found to be the work of Peter Paul Rubens after being believed for decades to be a fake, The Independent reported. The 17th-century painting will be displayed at the Royal Academy of Arts in London in the U.K.'s first exhibition dedicated to the painter's work. Nico Van Hout, the exhibition's curator, initially identified the painting as authentic. The work will be on display at the London museum beginning in January 2015.