'Copy' of masterpiece by Spanish artist in Wales found to be the real thing

MURILLO: His 'lost' masterpiece MURILLO: His 'lost' masterpiece Sotheby’s

A PORTRAIT hanging in a Welsh castle, long thought to be a copy, has been declared the real thing by a Spanish art expert.

Benito Navarrete Prieto, a distinguished art scholar made the journey from Sevilla to north Wales on a hunch.

And now he has established that the artwork hanging in Penrhyn Castle was indeed a lost masterpiece by Bartolomé Esteban Murillo, one of Spain’s greatest painters.

Benito said, “It is an absolute masterpiece. Magnetic.”

The 17th-century portrait depicts Don Diego Ortiz de Zúñiga, who wrote a history of Sevilla.

It had hung in the castle for almost 150 years and was assumed by the National Trust, which owns the castle, to be of no great value.

The Murillo was attributed to the artist when it was acquired in the 1870s, but by 1901 it had been downgraded to a copy.

There are only around a dozen known portraits by the artist and those few that do exist are worth millions of pounds.

The portrait is the centrepiece of a major exhibition on the artist at the Frick Collection in New York until February 4, 2018, before it transfers to the National Gallery in London.

Murillo worked primarily in Sevilla until his death in 1682 at the age of 64.  Such was his prestige that, at one point, the king of Spain banned his paintings from being exported.

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