Clean-up reveals 'workshop' painting as genuine Velazquez

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After radical restoration, a painting owned by New York's Metropolitan Museum that for years was considered a product of the workshop of Velazquez, has been revealed to be the work of the Spanish master himself, and may even be a self-portrait.

The painstaking removal of layers of accumulated overpainting and murky varnish revealed Velazquez's signature brushstrokes on the Portrait of a Man, a three-quarter profile of a man in his thirties, sporting a jaunty moustache.

The portrait bears a strong similarity to a face at the right-hand edge of Velazquez's epic canvas The Surrender at Breda, or The Lances, a masterwork held by the Prado Museum in Madrid. That portrayal of a watchful young man, wearing a hat tilted at a rakish angle is traditionally considered to be a self-portrait of Velazquez, Spain's court painter who was about 35 when he painted both works between 1634 and 1635.

"It's bugged me for 25 years," said Keith Christiansen, the Metropolitan Museum's recently appointed chairman of European paintings. "The quality has always been there. And I had a hard time believing that a work of quality was the product of a generic workshop."..

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