One amateur art collector was surprised to find that a painting he bought for £1,200 could earn him up to £35 million, as it is part of a notorious 19th century painting.
The painting, of a woman’s head, is part of Gustave Courbet’s The Origin Of The World. The painting is displayed in Paris’ Musee d’Orsay and depicts female genitalia.
This racy painting was only shown as a body, as the head was missing. But experts believe the anonymous art lover purchased the head at a furniture store.
The art lover even convinced the store owner to knock down the price by a sixth when he purchased it.
Paris Match, a French magazine, said yesterday that the buyer made the discovery while looking through bric-a-brac in 2010.
After numerous chemical and spectographic tests, the painting was determined to be part of the 1866 painting of a woman’s body and genitalia.
An author of a catalogue of Courbet’s work, Jean Jacque Fernier, told Paris Match: “The Origin Of The World finally has a face.”
Fernier said the painting is one of the “most daring in the history of painting.”
While some believe the work is a masterpiece, others think it is vulgar and pornographic.
It is thought that the artist wanted to “preserve the modesty of his subject,” which was his Irish lover Joanna Hiffernan.
The art world is reveling in excitement. French TV channel TF1 said yesterday, “At last Courbet’s painting has a face.”
It was difficult to determine the painting’s authenticity. State-of-the-art techniques were used to match the two parts of the painting, its canvas, and the wood frame.
Fernier compared the length of brushstrokes and studied a sketch of the work.
The man who bought the painting wants to have it re-attached to the body
Courbet is known to have influenced many other artists, and is also known for creating scandalous paintings.
Young Ladies on the Banks of the Seine depicts two prostitutes under a tree, but The Origin Of The World was said to be his most scandalous and was not displayed until 1988.
He was put in jail in 1871 for involvement in the revolutionary Paris Commune’s dismantling of a prominent column. He continued painting in jail.
Six years later, he died of liver disease from heavy drinking.