Museum Readies to Display Newly Restored Multi-million Dollar Painting Found in Closet

Detail of Otto van Veen’s “Apollo and Venus.”
Detail of Otto van Veen’s “Apollo and Venus.”
(Duane Tinkey)
  • Otto van Veen’s “Apollo and Venus,” Flemish, ca.  1600.  Height 49” x Width 37”.  Oil on Wood.  Hoyt Sherman Place.

    Otto van Veen’s “Apollo and Venus,” Flemish, ca. 1600. Height 49” x Width 37”. Oil on Wood. Hoyt Sherman Place.

In 2016, an Iowa museum director was looking in a closet for a Civil War-era flag when he found a long-lost painting worth millions.

Now with a full restoration completed and a security system in place, "Apollo and Venus," the rediscovered ca. 1600 work by renowned Dutch artist Otto van Veen, goes on public view with an evening reception this Thursday.

Robert Warren, the director of Hoyt Sherman Place, a Des Moines museum and theater, said the 400-year-old early Baroque panel painting had been “lost in the shuffle” for decades.

Chicago painting conservator Barry Bauman, who has also restored works by Thomas Moran, George Inness, and Edwin Lord Weeks for the museum, began an intensive conservation of the rediscovered painting that ended in March 2018. (Read more backstory on DSM.) Security cameras were added before the work goes on permanent display this week.

The painting includes an exhibition label from the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and was gifted to Hoyt Sherman Place in the 1920s.

Warren says van Veen's work historically has sold for between $4 million and $17 million. 

Van Veen is known for his church altarpieces and for maintaining an active studio with numerous students. His most famous pupil was Peter Paul Rubens.

 

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