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Unidentified painting at Yale is really early Velázquez, says curator John Marciari

July 7, 2010 | 12:00 pm


John Marciari, now curator of European art at the San Diego Museum of Art, has made the front page of newspapers in Spain. 

His news? He has published an article in the new issue of the Madrid quarterly Ars making the case that a painting he found in storage in 2004 at the Yale University Art Gallery, right, is actually an altarpiece by the celebrated Spanish painter Diego Velázquez. 

"The Education of the Virgin," missing paint in spots and trimmed at the top, looked "pretty beat up," when he first saw it as a junior curator at the Yale gallery, Marciari says. "It was dirty, with a bit of tissue paper stuck on the canvas to hold the paint in place."

It wasn't until a few months later that it hit him: "This is an early Velázquez." And in the years since then he has marshaled stylistic evidence and technical data to help build his case.

Reattributions are tricky, and don't stick without the support of other experts in the field. Which makes this case even more extraordinary so far. 

Even though they have yet to see the painting in the flesh, some Velázquez experts have already expressed enthusiasm about the discovery for providing new insight into the artist's early development. Next step is for curators at the Prado, the mother lode of Velázquez paintings, to weigh in. 

For the full story, click here.

-- Jori Finkel

Image: "The Education of the Virgin," circa 1617, attributed to Diego Velázquez. Courtesy Yale University Art Gallery.