'Fierce Looking Woman' on Display after 60 Years in Storage

May 21 2021

Image of 'Fierce Looking Woman' on Display after 60 Years in Storage

Picture: Barber Institute of Fine Arts

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The Barber Institute of Fine Arts in Birmingham have announced that they have redisplayed a Portrait of an Unknown Lady, a picture which has been in storage for the past sixty years. The work was originally purchased in the 1940s as a work by Francisco Goya. However, recent research has revealed that it might be a rare work by the Puerto Rican artist José Campeche (1751-1809).

According to the museum's catalogue entry online:

Acquired in 1940 as a portrait by the great Spanish artist Francisco Goya of his mother, this attribution has long been dismissed – along with the authenticity of two accompanying letters, also supposedly by Goya, that mention the painting. Recently, several specialists have suggested it is by José Campeche. A Puertorican artist whose father was a freed Black slave, Campeche is now acclaimed as the finest painter working in central America in the 18th century. The identity of the sitter remains unknown, but her brooch represents the Virgin of Solitude: she may have been a member of a specific lay religious society in Puerto Rico.

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