Economy

Rubens portrait of James I's 'lover' found after 400 years

Rubens portrait of James I's 'lover' found after 400 years”

It was believed to be a copy of the lost original, which was missing for nearly 400 years, but an expert now thinks it's the real deal after spotting it in the gallery of Pollok House.

Dealer and TV presenter Bendor Grosvenor found this "lost" portrait by Flemish artist Peter Paul Rubens - a head study of the Duke of Buckingham.

Tell-tale signs that it was painted by Rubens were revealed by restoration work commissioned by Britain's Lost Masterpieces, on BBC Four, presented by the art historian Dr...

Grosvenor noticed the painting of George Villiers, first Duke of Buckingham, during a visit to the historic Pollok House in Glasgow, according to the BBC.

Ben van Beneden, director of the Rubenshuis and a member of the Rubenianum, the Antwerp centre for Rubens scholarship, confirmed the attribution to Rubens.

Dr Grosvenor said: 'The chance to discover a portrait of such a pivotal figure in British history by one of the greatest artists who ever lived has been thrillingly exciting'.

Painstaking conservation work then carried out by the restorer Simon Gillespie removed layers of dirt and overpaint that had concealed many of Rubens' trademark techniques, creating doubt over the painting's true attribution.

An analysis of the alterations through cleaning and x-ray demonstrated the painting could not be a copy, but was Rubens's lost masterpiece.

He was assassinated in 1628 aged 35 - three years after James I died.

'Glasgow is proud of its extensive art collection, considered by many to be amongst the finest in Europe. Villiers was a minor noble elevated to duke by James I. Experts believe he was the king's lover, and a secret passageway connected the two men's bedrooms in one of James' residences.

The newly discovered portrait will be redisplayed with an updated interpretation in the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum from Thursday onwards.

The new series of Britain's Lost Masterpieces begins on Wednesday at 9pm on BBC4.

The painting, owned by the Glasgow Museums, will now go back on display at Pollok House, and is only the second portrait by Rubens in a public collection in Scotland.



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