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Sotheby’s has set a new auction record for a work on paper by Frederic, Lord Leighton during its July 15 Victorian, Pre-Raphaelite & British Impressionist Art sale in London, selling a study for the artist’s “Flaming June” to an American collector for £167,000 against an estimate of £40,000-60,000.

The pencil and white chalk study is the only head study for the artist’s famous “Flaming June” masterpiece. It was rediscovered hanging discreetly on a bedroom wall at West Horsley Place, a 400-acre Surrey estate, by Sotheby’s Victorian Art specialist Simon Toll.

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A sketch of Van Gogh has been discovered in an album of drawings by his friend, the French artist Emile Bernard (1868-1941). Other than self-portraits, there are very few depictions of Van Gogh, so this represents a remarkable find. It is being published for the first time by "The Art Newspaper" and will be unveiled during a coming exhibition at the Kunsthalle Bremen.

Bernard’s hasty sketch captures Van Gogh in a Parisian café, probably in Montmartre. He is drinking with two women, most likely prostitutes. Van Gogh has a short beard, moustache and slightly receding hair. Most noticeable are the piercing eyes. The sketch has spontaneity, suggesting that Bernard drew it while they were out for an evening.

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Like Keats, Hank Williams and Kurt Cobain, the Austrian painter Egon Schiele was an artist who never made it out of his 20s. He succumbed to the Spanish flu in 1918 at the age of 28, leaving behind a last, tortured sketch of his pregnant wife, made a day before she died in the same epidemic.

But for someone whose cheerless credo was “All things are living dead,” Schiele squeezed a lot out of the few years he was given. On Thursday, the Neue Galerie, a temple to German Expressionism, opens “Egon Schiele: Portraits,” the first American exhibition to focus on Schiele’s portraiture.

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A housekeeper has been charged with stealing £500,000 of antiques and art including a Picasso sketch from her aristocratic boss.

Kim Roberts, 58, of Colyton, Devon, is accused of taking valuable items from the Dowager Countess Bathurst, while working at her grand Cotswolds estate and Kensington home.

Roberts appeared at Gloucester Crown Court on Friday facing three counts of theft, including one count from another previous employer.

She is accused of theft between April 30 and May 21 last year of of art and antiques to the value of approximately £500,000 from Gloria, the Dowager Countess Bathurst at her Cirencester home.


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London’s Victoria and Albert Museum announced that they discovered a previously unknown oil sketch by English Romantic painter John Constable. The sketch of trees, which dates back to 1821 or 1822, was found tucked beneath another work by the artist, “Branch Hill Pond: Hampstead.” Conservators had removed the painting’s lining while preparing for the upcoming exhibition, “Constable: The Making of a Master.”

Constable’s daughter donated the contents of the artist’s studio -- including 92 oil sketches, 297 drawings and watercolors, and 3 sketchbooks -- to the Victoria and Albert Museum in 1888. The recently discovered sketch is currently on view at the institution.    

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A painting potentially by the Italian Renaissance master, Leonardo da Vinci, was discovered is a Swiss bank vault holding a private collection of 400 paintings. The work closely resembles a 15th century sketch by da Vinci of the Italian noblewoman Isabella d’Este, which is in the Louvre’s collection. If proven to be authentic, the painting could bring a long-running scholarly debate to a close. For centuries art historians debated whether or not da Vinci went on to paint a version of the sketch of d’Este, one of the most influential figures in art and fashion during her time.    

Carlos Pedretti, a professor emeritus of art history at the University of California Los Angeles and a da Vinci expert, told the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera, “There are no doubts that the portrait is the work of Leonardo. I can immediately recognize da Vinci’s handiwork, particularly in the woman’s face.” Carbon dating conducted at the University of Arizona confirmed with 95% accuracy that the artwork was painted between 1460 and 1650, the time period when da Vinci is believed to have met and sketched d’Este. Further testing indicated that the pigments and primer used in the work match the ones the artist used throughout his career. Some scholars are more hesitant to say that the newly discovered work is an authentic da Vinci as it was painted on canvas rather than wood panels, which were favored by the master.

There are only 15 to 20 artworks in the world that have been properly attributed to da Vinci.

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Friday, 18 January 2013 16:50

Rare Italian Painting Found at Goodwill

Maria Rivera, an employee at a Goodwill store in Virginia, unearthed a rare painting by 19th century Italian artist Giovanni Battista Torriglia (1858-1937) while on duty earlier this week. The painting reminded Rivera of a work she had seen in a museum, prompting her to put the piece aside.

The painting, which features an older, silver-haired woman holding a teacup and saucer, is signed “G.B. Torriglia” in the upper right-hand corner. Presented in a gold-colored wood frame, one appraiser valued the work at $12,000 to $18,000. A letter of authentication is also available for the painting.


The Torriglia painting joins a long list of treasures that have been uncovered at Goodwills across the country. In the past year, a sketch by Salvador Dali (1904-1989) was unearthed in Seattle and a 1,000 year-old piece of Native American pottery was found in New York, among other discoveries.


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