Christie's auction house says science has confirmed that a disputed painting is the work of Dutch master
"Saint Praxedis" is believed to be the earliest surviving work by the 17th-century artist, but there has long been a question mark over its authenticity.
The work was tentatively attributed to Vermeer after it appeared in an exhibition at
But other experts remained skeptical. The painting was not included in a "Young Vermeer" exhibition in
Christie's said Friday it was declaring the work a Vermeer after scientists at
"They're able to basically DNA test lead white," said
The tests found that the lead white was a precise match for that used in another early Vermeer, "Diana and her Companions" — "So precise as to suggest that the same batch of paint could have been used," Pettifer said.
He said the research, along with analysis of the date and signature on the painting, amounted to "a compelling endorsement" of Vermeer's authorship.
Praxedis was a
Doubters point out that the painting is a near-copy of an Italian work, and its religious subject is not typical of Vermeer, best known for paintings rooted in daily life, such as "Girl With a Pearl Earring."
But Pettifer said Vermeer was a self-taught artist who had recently converted to Catholicism when he painted "Saint Praxedis" in 1655, aged 22 or 23.
"All of these things stack up for the case," Pettifer said. "For a self-taught artist to make copies is what you would expect.
"I think this will force another look at the early paintings of Vermeer."
The painting — one of only two works by the artist in private hands — is due to be auctioned
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