New Bruegel Masterpiece Found
Flemish treasure was hiding in plain sight in Spain
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Sep 24, 2010 9:05 AM CDT
Spain's Arts Minister Angeles Gonzalez Sinde looks at a previously undiscovered painting titled "The Wine of St. Martin's Day" by Pieter Bruegel the Elder at the Prado Museum in Madrid Thursday, Sept....   (Paul White)
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(Newser) – An unidentified painting brought to Spain about 400 years ago has turned out to be a masterpiece by 16th-century Flemish painter Pieter Bruegel the Elder, Spain's culture minister said yesterday. He unveiled the work, "The Wine of St. Martin's Day," at the Prado. The tempera-on-linen painting depicts a crowd of about 100 people—a Bruegel blend of women and children, drunks, blind people, beggars and thieves—scrambling madly to get a sample of the year's first vintage from a barrel on St. Martin's feast day.

The Prado's director called the discovery "fantastic news for the history of art"; the museum is negotiating to buy it from its current owners, who didn't know it was a Bruegel until they set about trying to sell it last year. Sotheby's of Madrid then asked the Prado to study the much-deteriorated work and investigations gradually brought to light that it was a Bruegel. Confirmation came on Sept. 6 when cleaning work revealed Bruegel's signature. Prior to this find there were just 40 signed Bruegels in existence, the museum said.