El Greco found in old envelope
21 October 2004
MADRID – An original El Greco painting was discovered in a battered, old brown envelope in north-west Spain, it was reported Thursday.
An elderly man responded to an advert in a Spanish newspaper, saying he had a picture that might be for sale, if auctioneers Christie’s would be interested, Britain’s Guardian newspaper reported.
Paul Raison, an expert in old master paintings at Christie’s, said: “He went off to hunt in a cupboard in another room, and fetch the proverbial brown envelope – and out of it came this wonderful thing.
“It was filthy dirty, but it didn’t take us long to conclude it must be an El Greco.”
The clues were in the elongated white body of the Christ, the coppery thunder clouds, the barely visible crowded figures in the background, and the flickering light, all the artist’s trademarks.
The elderly man said The Baptism of Christ had been in his family for over a century: he had no idea where it came from before that, and was astonished at its value – estimated at up to GBP 600,000 (EUr 870,000), although it could go for more at auction in December.
It has been acknowledged by El Greco experts as genuine, done when the young painter moved from his native Crete to Venice.
He worked in Venice for only three years, before moving to Madrid and then Toledo.
It may been part of a portable altar, commissioned by a private patron. At some point it was taken out of its arched frame, and strips of wood were added to make a rectangle.
The composition is closely related to the Modena Triptych, included in the British National Gallery’s recent El Greco exhibition.
Experts say there could be two more sections somewhere, perhaps hidden in brown envelopes.
Subject: Spanish news