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When is a Titian a repe-Titian?

Part 6: Old Masters in limbo

Today, Lord Lee’s picture floats in a sort of limbo land. Permanently in the Courtauld Collection, it hangs rather neglected and unloved among so many greater Masterpieces with firm attributions. It is occasionally mused over by yet another scholar who inconclusively, and without much passion, wonders who might have painted it. It is a pity. It is a pleasing picture which in less exalted company might shine. Like so many minor pictures that have become incarcerated in public collections, never to be deaccessioned, one suspects that it had a more fruitful existence, and gave greater pleasure and stimulus to many more people, when it was owned privately and from time to time passed from one owner to another through the intermediary hands of an auctioneer or dealer.

I suspect that such would have been the view of Joe Duveen and Bernard Berenson. If you care to witness such views, their arguments about authentication in a convincingly dramatic presentation, and see these "old masters" come alive with remarkable authenticity, then I strongly recommend a visit to Simon Gray’s Old Masters at the Criterion Theatre.

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