• 19 Mar 2018

It is far from rare that great museums rediscover in their archives some forgotten or lost artistic treasures. The Louvre Museum in Paris and the Carnegie Museum of Pittsburgh both recently found some master pieces that remained locked up. We take a look into these important discoveries.

This image by Pexels represents a treasure chest.

© Pexels

The Louvre found a lost Monet in its vaults

In 2016 a French researcher found in the Louvre‘s storage facility an Artwork by Impressionist painter Claude Monet. It was severely damaged and almost unrecognizable after 6 decades waiting. The Art world did not quite realize the importance of the news until 2018 thanks to the National Museum of Western Art in Tokyo. Indeed, the museum announced that the canvas Water Lilies: Reflection of Willows, made in 1916 by the Artists was going to be presented to the public after the completion of an important restoration. The master piece was initially purchased by Japanese Art collector Kojiro Matsukata in the 1920s. He had 25 Artworks of the Artist. As a result, he had the intention to found a museum dedicated to Western Art. However, a series of unfortunate events including a massive fire in London which destroyed part of his collection prevented him from doing so. The found piece by Claude Monet will be back in Japan after staying for 60 years on French soil.

This 1916 Artwork by Impressionist painter Claude Monet is entitled Water Lilies, Reflections of Weeping Willows.

Water Lilies, Reflections of Weeping Willows, 1916 © Claude Monet

The Carnegie Museum of Pittsburgh unveils its Renaissance treasures

The Carnegie Museum of Pittsburgh is a 120 years-old institution. As a result, it encloses surprising treasures in its vaults. In fact, in 2015 the museum decided to undertake important research in its collections. The idea was to reclassify and reattribute the Artworks to their creators. In 2018, it is a done deal and the results are surprising. As a result, important master pieces from the Renaissance period were rediscovered. English portrait painter George Romney is included in the Artists who were found. His piece along with 12 other ones from Renaissance Old Masters are part of the exhibition “Visions of Order and Chaos: The Enlightened Eye” that opened on March 3rd, 2018. “We’ve got all these interesting paintings that have not been properly appreciated” said Louise Lippincott, the museum’s curator of Fine Arts.

This 1782 canvas by English portrait painter George Romney represents Lady Hamilton.

Lady Hamilton, 1782 © George Romney

The question of museum’s storage is a burning issue

Most of the great museums only show a tiny portion of their collections to the public. Indeed, the issue of the Artworks’ conservation and the necessary space to store it still remain for the Art world. In 2016, Brooklyn Museum‘s Chief Curator Kevin Stayton in New York told Artsy: “The museum is always looking everywhere for storage. We have so much material and so little space.” Even though new solutions have emerged, the issue still remains. Since 2016, the MET in New York as well as the Brooklyn Museum and the New York Historical Society were among the first institutions around the world to experiment the opening of their vaults to the public. Other solutions were suggested to museums such as collecting less and working more in partnerships to share spaces. Despite such steps forward, the lack of space is still relevant. As a result, master pieces can remain lost for decades among the greatest museums’ collections. In France the Parisian Pinacothèque, the first private museum founded by Art historian Marc Restellini, did propose to exhibit Artworks that were hidden in the museums’ storage facilities. However, because of the tremendous amount of operational charges the Pinacothèque closed down in 2016. The Louvre and the Carnegie Museum once again experienced the burden of Artworks’ storage.

Read our article about the Art collectors’ new practices here.

Sources: Artsy, Artnet and Le Monde.