We are excited to hear that researchers at Madrid’s Prado Museum have announced the discovery of a previously unknown work by the master Pieter Bruegel the Elder, a sprawling, 5-by-9-foot tempera-on-linen peasant scene called “The Wine of St. Martin’s Day.”
“The discovery of the painting is fantastic news for the history of art,” Prado director Miguel Zugaza said.
Spain’s El Pais newspaper said the museum was prepared to pay about €7 million ($9.33 million), but that the painting could fetch as much as €25 million if sold in the private sector.
The owners of the painting had wanted to sell it and had unaware that it was a Bruegel. 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.
Pieter Bruegel the Elder, the patriarch of a prolific Flemish painting dynasty, is known for his landscapes and depictions of peasant life.
Prior knowledge of the painting’s image was known from an ancient engraving, but the work itself “had been taken for lost,” Zugaza said. The painting was brought to Spain from Italy by the ninth Duke of Medinaceli in the 17th century and remained in the family’s hands up until recently, he said. Its current owners were private collectors who did not want to be named.
The minister said the owners had indicated they would prefer it went to a national museum rather than into private hands.
It’s a remarkable event, it’s unlikely that there will ever be another Bruegel discovered again in such an unexpected manner. There are barely 40 Bruegels in the world,” said Culture Minister Angeles Gonzalez-Sinde.
Other works by Bruegel
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