The young Infanta at the Louvre : a martyr to attribution

Diego Velázquez’s Workshop
The Infanta Marie Marguerite, 1653
Oil on canvas - 70 x 58 cm
Paris, Musée du Louvre
Photo : Musée du Louvre

10/2/09 – Attribution – Will the High Museum demand to be reimbursed by the Louvre ? The question might seem normal given the fact that in the Picasso et les Maîtres retrospective which closed in Paris on 2 February the Infanta from the Louvre (ill.), brilliantly attributed to Velázquez himself during its recent trip to America (see editorial in Fench of 25/12/06) and once again presented as definitively acknowledged to the master at the start of the exhibition (see article) as well as in the accompanying catalogue, has now in a totally unexpected manner been downgraded to the dishonourable status of a copy with a new label indicating « (after) Velázquez ».

Obviously, the curators have newly missed the mark as this canvas, although it cannot be attributed entirely to the master himself according to the best specialists, is without a doubt a product of his workshop. The correct label should thus have been « Velázquez workshop ». Of course, in an exhibition where new art history concepts came to light such as “(after) a follower of Rembrandt” for a painting which Picasso had never seen but was brought there to replace the missing Man with Gold Helmet from Berlin, nothing was considered impossible. The public thronged to the show and, after all, nothing else mattered.
Far be it from us to criticize an event which was crowned with the 2009 “Globe de Cristal” by Jacques Attali in a highly promoted show on France 3 television. Let us hope that thanks to this well-deserved crystal ball, the artist’s powers will be invoked to help in elucidating this fascinating mystery once and for all.

Version française

Didier Rykner, mercredi 11 février 2009

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