New Bruegel Masterpiece Found

Flemish treasure was hiding in plain sight in Spain
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Sep 24, 2010 9:05 AM CDT
New Bruegel Masterpiece Found
Spain's Arts Minister Angeles Gonzalez Sinde looks at a previously undiscovered painting titled "The Wine of St. Martin's Day" by Pieter Bruegel the Elder at the Prado Museum in Madrid Thursday, Sept. 23, 2010.    (Paul White)

An unidentified painting brought to Spain about 400 years ago has turned out to be a masterpiece by 16th-century Flemish painter Pieter Bruegel the Elder, Spain's culture minister said yesterday. He unveiled the work, "The Wine of St. Martin's Day," at the Prado. The tempera-on-linen painting depicts a crowd of about 100 people—a Bruegel blend of women and children, drunks, blind people, beggars and thieves—scrambling madly to get a sample of the year's first vintage from a barrel on St. Martin's feast day.

The Prado's director called the discovery "fantastic news for the history of art"; the museum is negotiating to buy it from its current owners, who didn't know it was a Bruegel until they set about trying to sell it last year. Sotheby's of Madrid then asked the Prado to study the much-deteriorated work and investigations gradually brought to light that it was a Bruegel. Confirmation came on Sept. 6 when cleaning work revealed Bruegel's signature. Prior to this find there were just 40 signed Bruegels in existence, the museum said. (Read more Spain stories.)

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