An exhibition showcasing a £2 million lost masterpiece will begin in Aberdeen next month.
Earlier this year it emerged a painting gifted to Aberdeen University more than a century ago was actually an original work by renowned 18th-Century Venetian artist Canaletto.
The work, called Ruins of a Temple, sat in the university’s collections for more than 150 years before finally being correctly identified.
Canaletto – real name Giovanni Antonio Canal – is widely viewed as one of the most important Venetian painters of the 1700s.
His work is hailed for its precise depiction of Venice, and he specialised in city views.
The painting is known as a capriccio, a depiction of a landscape blending together fictional and real-life architecture.
It was formerly believed to be either a studio product, or by one of Canaletto’s followers.
Ruins of a Temple will be on display from January 21 until February 24 in the gallery on the ground floor of the Sir Duncan Rice Library, alongside other related works from the university’s collections.
These include View of the Grand Canal with San Simeone Piccolo and the Scalzi, attributed to Canaletto’s father Bernardo Canal (1673-1744), and a recently-acquired impression of Canaletto’s most famous etching, The Portico with a Lantern (c.1740-44).
Curatorial assistant Christina Mackenzie, who was involved in the creation of the exhibition, said: “The exhibition is something a little different to others we’ve done in the past, it’s only going to be on display for five weeks and focuses on one artwork.
“The discovery that this piece is an original Canaletto is fantastic, it’s great to be able to put it on display for the public.”
John Gash, a senior lecturer in art history, said: “Canaletto was not only one of the greatest painters of the 18th Century but one whose characterisation of many small figures in spacious, outdoor architectural settings epitomizes the Enlightenment’s fascination with society.
“It was therefore a great pleasure to be able to confirm, with the help of two outside Canaletto specialists, Charles Beddington and Francis Russell, that Ruins of a Temple in Aberdeen University was, in fact, a stunning original, as I had suspected, rather than a studio work as sometimes thought”.
It was bequeathed to the university in 1863, as part of a much larger bequest, including world-renowned Greek vases, by Alexander Henderson of Dyce.
Mr Gash added: “It is difficult to put an accurate price on paintings such as this but given its physical size, subject matter and the quality of the piece I would suggest it could be worth between £1.5 million and £2m.”
He will also be giving a talk about the painting and the collecting activities of Mr Henderson on February 19 from 6pm until 7.30pm at the Sir Duncan Rice Library.
The talk is free to attend, but should be booked online.
To reserve your space, visit https://bit.ly/2TwTF04