January 27th 2013

Unknown Le Brun painting found at The Ritz

You’ve certainly heard of “The Ritz”, but now there is another reason for the popular Parisian hotel and bar to stand out in the lime light.

Recently, The Hôtel Ritz Paris, which has shut its doors for an unprecedented two-year renovation (that’s right, 2014), made a rather notable discovery: hanging, in plain sight for decades, was a painting that, well, is actually pretty famous.


While the hotel has been shut down for renovation for the last five months, a previously unrecorded painting by master Charles Le Brun (1619-1690), a 17th century French artist and the painter to the ‘Sun King’ Louis XIV, was discovered in the Coco Chanel Suite at the Hôtel Ritz in Paris. Found by the London-based fine art consultant Joseph Friedman, who is formerly Curator of the Duke and Duchess of Windsor’s residence in Paris, he was spending time there while  advising the hotel on decisions surrounding the  €200 million renovation project.

According to ARTFIXdaily, Friedman “literally took a step backwards when [he] saw the painting.  It was clearly the work of a major 17th-century French master.”  Along with his assistant, Wanda Tymowska, he examined the painting and Tymowska found the detailed inscription of ‘C.L.B.F.’, along with the date of 1647.

The auction house Christie in Paris is set to sell the painting on April 15th, 2013. Thought to depict The Sacrifice of Polyxena, it is estimated that the painting will sell between €300,000 and €500,000 (that’s about $665,000 US).

The painting, tentatively named “Le Sacrifice de Polyxène” (“The Sacrifice of Polyxena”) is dated at 1647, depicting the killing of the youngest daughter of King Priam of Troy, Polyxena, who allegedly revealed the weakness of Achilles’ heel, thereby leading to his death, and soon her own. “Le Sacrifice de Polyxène” will be on display at Christie’s in New York from January 26th to January 29th, then later auctioned on the April date.

Most of Le Brun’s other works are found in the gallery Apollo located in the Louvre and the Great Hall of Mirrors at Versailles. It is likely that the early painting, dated with a year that would likely make him just emerging into his field, was done before he grew to popularity with his association to Louis XIV, who named him “the greatest French painter of all time.’’

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Andrew loves art and design, and pursues his studies in his final year at the Ontario College of Art and Design. He loves seeking out new artists and giving them their dues, and in his spare time, focuses on his own abstract sculpture.