"Lost" Madox Brown painting resurfaces in Britain

Thu Aug 11, 2011 1:47pm EDT
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By Alice Baghdjian

LONDON (Reuters) - The public have not laid eyes on the heavenly depiction of "The Seraph's Watch" for over a century and many people thought the painting was lost.

But now the work by pre-Raphaelite British artist Ford Madox Brown, depicting the serene gaze of two angels before a crown of thorns, will be exhibited at Manchester Art Gallery in northern England next month.

Completed in 1847, The Seraph's Watch was last displayed publicly in London in 1896, at which point the painting disappeared - and was even feared lost - until it was rediscovered in a private collection two years ago by the exhibition's curator, Julian Treuherz.

"When I saw the painting I knew instantly what it was. It had been regarded as lost but we all knew what it looked like from the copy made by Madox Brown's pupil, Dante Gabriel Rossetti," Treuherz, an expert in Victorian art, told Reuters.

"The amazing thing was that it was absolutely fresh. It had not suffered in any way and was in fantastic condition, which is important because Madox Brown was fond of repainting his earlier works in later styles," he said.

The copy of the piece by Madox Brown's pupil and one of the principle members of the pre-Raphaelite movement, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, sold for 100,000 pounds at auction in 2006.

Rossetti had sent Madox Brown a gushing letter explaining how much he admired his work and asking for lessons. The first task set by his tutor was to copy The Seraph's Watch, Treuherz said.

The exhibition -- the first major display of Madox Brown's work in nearly 50 years -- brings together 140 works from public and private collections, including the artist's masterpieces Work and The Last of England.   Continued...