French Curator Rediscovers 'Lost' Gustave Courbet Painting

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A "lost" Gustave Courbet painting, once believed to be a fake, has been authenticated by a French museum, artnet News reports.

Called Vue du Lac Léman (1876), the 19th century Realist painter’s landscape of a lake sat in the archives of The Musée du Vieux Granville in Normandy, France for more than 70 years. But recently, a local museum curator gave the work a fresh look and felt compelled to seek a second opinion.

“I was preparing a document on the history of the museum with my team,” Alexandra Jalaber, deputy curator of the city of Granville’s museums, told French newspaper Le Parisien. “The picture was in a locker, in storage, in the dark. I could not see it properly, but it remained in my memory as really beautiful.”

About 15 years after Courbet’s death in 1877, a local resident gave the painting to the museum, along with two other works. All three ended up in storage after World War II. In 1995, an expert announced all three were fakes—one a “blatant fake,” Jalaber recalled. The pieces were thought to be either intentional forgeries, or possibly works produced by one of Courbet's assistants and misattributed.

Jalaber consulted with Courbet expert and curator Bruno Mottin, who concluded that the lake scene was, indeed, by the famous French painter. Mottin also determined that one of the other two paintings was actually by Cherubino Pata, the artist’s good friend and collaborator.

The Musée du Vieux Granville is currently conducting additional research on the paintings, which will go on display at the city’s Museum of Modern Art this summer. Later, they will be exhibited in the Granville History Museum.

[h/t artnet News]