Restoring Le Brun's 'Jabach and His Family' (ctd.)

August 14 2014

Image of Restoring Le Brun's 'Jabach and His Family' (ctd.)

Picture: Met Museum

I mentioned recently that Met curator Keith Christiansen is charting the restoration of their recently acquired portrait Everhard Jabach and his Family by Charles Le Brun on his blog; now he's highlighting something I didn't know, that there were two versions of the picture. The other (above, right) was in a museum in Berlin, and destroyed during the war. The question is, however, which one is or was better? Christiansen says he;

[...] worried about this as we entered into negotiations for the purchase of the picture.

But concludes;

the quality of the Berlin painting is vastly inferior: the figures have a smooth, almost airbrushed quality and lack the expressive liveliness of those in the Metropolitan's version. No wonder that in the eighteenth century, the Metropolitan's painting became a principal sight in Cologne—it's noted in guidebooks to the city and was seen by the great poet-philosopher Goethe as well as by the British painter Sir Joshua Reynolds. In contrast, the Berlin version was reputed to have been painted in part by the workshop.

Update - a reader writes:

This feels like rubbing salt in to a wound.

Really interesting though – pity the National doesn’t do blogs. Would this be your next campaign?

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