Et Voila

courbet1

via The Daily Mail

Let me set the scene for you: it’s 2010 and you’re an amateur art buff looking through a Parisian antique shop. You come across a framed, but unsigned, canvas of a woman’s head thrown back, her shoulders bare. You are intrigued by the painting and pay €1200 for it, but your curiosity won’t rest. You take the painting home and match it against the famous, headless painting by Gustave Courbet called “Origin of the World” (you know the one, it scandalized Paris when he painted it in 1866 so much so that it wasn’t displayed at the Musee D’Orsay until 120 years later), et voila, the grooves of the wood frame matched and so did the painting contours.

It’s at this point that you have a mini heart attack.

Two years later, and after a “battery of spectrographic and chemical tests,” the headless painting is officially “authenticated by Jacques Fernier, the only expert allowed to officially recognise Courbet works,” according to the Telegraph. The antique store find is added to Courbet’s catalog raisonné and is now valued at €35m. THIRTY FIVE MILLION EUROS or 29 thousand times what you bought the painting for. And your discovery has officially changed the known art world.

Of course, there are some critics who doubt its authenticity. Even Fernier himself admits that from an artistic point of view, the discovery isn’t as magical as the story suggests: “(The Origin of the World) loses that kind of marvellous mystery and symbolism from the moment you stick a head on it – that’s why Courbet took it off,” he said. The find has opened the discussion as to whether there are more missing pieces to the painting, hiding in the back of some junk shop somewhere.

You have to wonder: what if there are missing pieces in other famous works? What if there’s an unknown Edvard Munch painting that shows what exactly was so scary on that bridge for someone to scream so much. Or if further down the table from Van Gogh’s famous sunflowers, there’s a pair of garden shears and a giant bottle of Absinthe.

A big thank you to Sam for bringing this story to my attention. Thanks, lovely!

(Oh, and as for Valentine’s Day? Boyfriend went Paris-themed on me: he got us tickets to a show the Sunday we’re there, as well as arranged a shopping/ Easter egg hunt through the city! He ordered gifts at Colette, FrenchTrotters, and Zara Home and is having them all held there to be picked up in a few weeks. COME ON.)

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
February 15, 2013 / art / photo / LEAVE A COMMENT / 13

13 comments

  • OMG! What a fabulous story and even better BF!
    So romantic..

  • OH MY GOD. BF totally out did himself! Well done, duckie! Totally beats the look of horror that crossed Neel’s face when I mentioned gifts yesterday morning!

    That might be my favorite art story you’ve posted yet (although I’m still partial to the Pollock). How exciting! And now I’m totally grabbing that old Nora Roberts book when I hit my own bath today. After that, I have a ton of work to do. As well you know, missy! XO

  • OMG I don’t know what I’m most disturbed about, that you’ve been reading the daily mail, that there might have been something scary on that bridge or that I just clicked on a link that opened a humungous hairy muff on my work pc infront of everyone! Euw! That woman needs a wax!

  • well now i know what you love valentines day : ) whatta guy!

    this story pretty much reflects what i dream about every single time i enter an antique shop or estate sale. gosh, could you imagine? i can. and what an interesting find. i happen to really like the “origin of the world” and it’s not anything i gravitate towards in general by any means. nakedness doesn’t bother me at all, but i hate sexual objectification. that painting, it’s so honest and it seems it really comes from a place that isn’t objectifying anything – any ideas, or anyone. and i love that. but IF that head was apart of the picture i am not so sure i would like that painting anymore. i think with the face it looses this innocent quality to it for whatever reason. excellent reporting twinsy! i will be surely thinking about this all day long! happy weekend xoxoxo (oh, i will be working and painting and waiting for my camera this weekend)

  • amateur art buff? mmmmh, me doth not think so…
    & what if jacques fernier kicks the bucket tomorrow… the world will be without anyone to officially recognise courbet works!?!
    i can honestly say i wouldn’t have paid more than a tenner for this painting… that head is the equivalent of the godfather horse head scene! scary!
    & finally, as i’m feeling chatty, annie i read daily mail religiously… it cracks me up, where else can i find out martine mccutcheon paid £550 for hair extensions after declaring bankruptcy?

  • I was all prepared to tell you how fascinating I found this story when you sidetracked me by nonchalantly throwing in BF’s Valentine’s Day gift to you. I mean, come on! Oh, he’s good. (Eee, excited for you!)
    I have to tell you that I was happily eating my dry Life cereal as I was reading this post when I clicked on that link. I almost spit cereal all over my computer. Obviously, I was unfamiliar with the back story. Or the front story, in this case. Doh! ;)
    Hey, have a beautiful weekend!

  • A bit late but happy valentine’s day to you as well! Your boyfriends seems like a nice guy indeed :)
    What date are you coming to Paris?

  • This is bananas. But, I guess the guy knew a little something something about art to take a chance on 1200Euro on a painting and it really paid off.
    Oh yeah, sounds like BF scores big time points this Valentine’s Day.

  • I heard about this – such an incredible story! Apparently the guy even haggled down the price when he bought it (imagine how the person who sold it is feeling?!)

  • You’re welcome hon. Ha, it’s hilarious that you are being called out as a Daily Mirror reader, I’m sorry! I’m totally addicted to it. As Sue says, how else should we read up about the most ridiculous, over exaggerated, most of the time made-up news stories on the internet. Actually, the comments on each post are more entertaining than the articles themselves.

    Quit with that link to muff, eugh!

    Lucky you for valentines gifts, very romantic indeed. You have a lovely guy there x

  • […] 1. And because I need to do a better job of informing you when things are Not Safe for Work (see Friday’s post with the Courbet crotch-shot, sorry guys), the following clip would best be listened to with […]

  • Oooh, what a fun art story. And a really sweet Valentine’s Day / Easter gift

  • […] early in the morning down to Avenue Victor Hugo to visit Zara Home and pick up the first of the 3 Valentine’s Day presents JML (JAMAL!) had reserved for me around the city (a picture frame and two adorable vintage-y door […]