Art: Surprise

The ways of art experts are usually cautious and often strange. A case in point is the history of a small oil Pieta at the Palazzo Bianco in Genoa. In 1893 the painting bore a label boldly attributing it to Rubens. Later, when critics questioned the label, the museum withdrew the painting from view. In 1910 it went on exhibit again, cautiously identified as a "school of Rubens" work. In 1920 the authorities relabeled the painting "Unknown. From school of Rubens?" By 1928 they had lost all confidence, reattributing the canvas to an "unknown Genoese of the 18th century." Back it...

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