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BRAFA: rediscovered Rubens masterpiece

Brafa 2018 will open its doors on Saturday 27 January, inviting visitors to discover a panoply of works of art which include a recently re-discovered masterpiece by Peter-Paul Rubens!

The painting, entitled ‘Diana and Nymphs Hunting Deer’, was known from photographs, but no-one was sure of its exact location until the artwork suddenly appeared in 2015 at an auction in Paris. Extensive analysis was of course immediately undertaken to prove it to be an authentic work by Rubens (Siegen 1577-1640 Antwerp).

According to the expert Arnout Balis, Rubens painted the figures himself, but called on two specialised artists to contribute to the other components of the large-scale painting (155 x 199 cm): Paul de Vos (an animal painter) and Jan Wildens (a landscape painter). Dating from between 1635 and 1640, the painting is a typical example of Rubens’ work during this period, for it is lyrical, with a light pictorial touch and a predominantly pale palette.

The artwork was most probably commissioned by Gian Francesco Guido di Bagno, the papal nuncio in the Netherlands, forming a pair with the ‘Caledonian Boar Hunt’ painted by Rubens and Frans Snyders which has since disappeared. Hunting scenes like this were highly prestigious possessions, and were usually displayed in hunting pavilions.

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