Sunday, December 6, 2009

Lost Masterpiece Rediscovered

A fascinating recovery of the painting "Charles I Insulted by Cromwell's Soldiers" by Delaroche. (Via Victorian Paintings)

When the Duke of Sutherland's London residence, Bridgewater House, was bombed in 1941, a vast canvas by the French artist Paul Delaroche was rolled up and taken away to safety at Mertoun, the duke's seat in the Scottish Borders.

There it was forgotten, and the masterpiece by the artist who painted the National Gallery's wildly popular work The Execution of Lady Jane Grey was presumed lost, a casualty of the Luftwaffe. But this year the London gallery's curators were working on a Delaroche exhibition when they were alerted by Michael Clarke, director of the National Gallery of Scotland, to the existence of some unidentified paintings at the duke's home. Curious, they asked to take a look.

So it was that "Charles I Insulted by Cromwell's Soldiers" (1837), one of Delaroche's masterpieces, was rediscovered. Nicholas Penny, director of the National Gallery, said: "This is huge. Delaroche is one of the greatest 19th-century painters. We think it will create a sensation: it is an extraordinarily powerful work."



Julygirl said...

Wow! I love it when that happens. Lost art recovered, and not a forgery.

Stephanie A. Mann said...

Fascinating post--as the linked article notes, the artist intended the parallel between the mockery of Jesus and the mockery of Charles I. Through publication of "Eikon Basilike" Charles became regarded as a martyr for the Church of England--his Feast is on January 30 as King and Martyr of the Church of England Calendar of Holy Days(his Archbishop of Canterbury, William Laud, is also honored!) Of course, we must remember that the Church of England has no method or process of canonizing saints and makes no claim that those honored on their calendar are actually in heaven!!

MadMonarchist said...

His Catholic wife Queen Henrietta Maria, so I've heard, certainly thought of him as a martyr who was with the saints in Heaven. Some also said he became a Catholic secretly though I tend to doubt that only because that was said as an accusation by his enemies for whom becoming Catholic was as good as becoming a satanist.

tubbs said...

Since Rome announced its plan to accomodate Anglican converts - I'm wondering if they'll be able to keep these two cults (Charles Stuart, William Laud). Both these Protestants were martyred for not being Protestant enough, and it has been said that Charles would have been spared if he had agreed to abolish the CofE episcopacy (an episcopacy whose validity was formally denied by Rome in the nineteenth century).
Has anyone seen this matter (Laud/Stuart) discussed on the blogosphere lately? I know it's rather trivial compared to the other issues and obstacles involved, but I'm curious.

Hels said...

I too would loved to have been the curator who opened the crate and realised what the paintings might have been. What a moment. I found an important book once, but that hardly counts. Thanks for the link,