The recently discovered painting is one by artist Jacob Jordaens and the auction record for one of his work stands at a staggering £3.6m. The artwork, produced by the pupil of Peter Paul Rubens, was previously unknown to art historians until it was unearthed in Swansea Museum’s storeroom.
The piece which was identified by Bendor Grosvenor as part of a BBC Four series, “Britain’s Lost Masterpieces” and the painting is a rare preparatory oil study for one of the artists best known works, Atlanta & Meleager.
Mr Grosvenor was trawling through an online art collection and noticed the similarities to Jordaens other work and got curious about its history, however, identifying it wasn’t helped by the piece being labelled as a 18th Century copy.
Jordaens was one of the leading Flemish Baroque painters of the 17th century and it is believed that the painting has belonged to Swansea Museum for over a century but was previously catalogued as the work of an unknown 18th Century artist.
As well as this mislabelling, the painting was also partially painted over by a restorer and although the work has now been recovered to its original state, it’s significance was hindered until its recent discovery brought the truth to light.
The painting was sent to the Rubenshuis Museum in Antwerp to be authenticated and it was identified by the merchant’s markings and the presence of the Antwerp coat of arms, Jordaen’s hometown, as well as being dated between 1619 and 1622.
In the face of Swansea Museum being subject to major cutbacks and increased speculation as to whether they will look to cash in on the find, a spokesman for Swansea council has stated the significance of holding onto international works and said that it is unlikely that it is to be sold.
The painting is currently in London, before it moves back to Swansea where it will go on display next month.
The BBC documentary “Britain’s Lost Masterpieces” airs on BBC4 at 9pm on Wednesday 28th September, after which it will be available on iPlayer here.