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Thursday, 24 January 2013 16:56

17th Century Masterpiece Found in France

Paris’ legendary Ritz hotel, which is currently undergoing a major $267.5 million renovation, has been unknowingly sheltering a 17th century masterpiece. The work, which is believed to be by the French painter and court artist of Louis XIV, Charles Le Brun (1619-1690), was first spotted by Olivier Lefeuvre, a specialist in the period at Christie’s France. Upon seeing the painting in July, a month before the Ritz closed its doors for two years worth of renovations, Lefeuvre knew that the work had to be a Le Brun. Initials reading “CLBF,” which stands for Charles Le Brun Fecit (Le Brun did this) and a date, “1647,” were found on the work, supporting Lefeuvre’s hunch.  

How the painting ended up in the Ritz remains a mystery, as the hotel archives lack any reference to the work. While Christie’s has been unable to track down any record of the painting, officials have no doubt that the work is an authentic Le Brun. The painting, which depicts the killing of Trojan princess Polyxena after she was linked to the death of Achilles, was renamed The Sacrifice of Polyxena by Christie’s.

The Le Brun painting will be auctioned by Christie’s in Paris in April 2013 and could raise as much as $665,000 for the foundation established by owner Mohamed Al Fayed in memory of his son Dodi, the late boyfriend of Princess Diana. Dodi and Diana dined at the Ritz before their fatal car accident in 1997.

The painting will go on display at Christie’s New York location next week.

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