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Missing paint

02 November 2006

IT WAS lost in the sense that no one remembered its existence. Forty yearago, St John's College, Durham, entrusted its RubenLamentation of Christ painting to the Hatton Gallery in Newcastle oindefinite loan. "All the people who dealt with it have since moved on," sayCampbell Grant, the college bursar. "The paperwork disappeared into tharchives, and it fell out of memory."

The painting is thought to be a copy of Rubens's original made in his owstudio; so it could well include brushwork by the master. With the pressure fospace common in all galleries, there came the day when the painting was moveinto store and forgotten. It came to light only when Ibby Landfear, researchinand cataloguing European paintings, uncovered it and emailed St John's.

How and when it came into the possession of the College is unclear. Mr Grantells me that there is a record of its passing through several hands, and thait was in the possession of a Henry Munday in 1881, a couple of decades beforthe College was founded. But there is no firm indication that he was the donorNow the Hatton Gallery is very happy for the College to have the painting backand "there is a great big wall waiting for it above the lovely staircase in thmain hall."


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